Why is Pride so important to me? And to London?
This is the question I’ve been asking myself while researching this column on the Pride London Festival. What is it about the upcoming festival that has all kinds of people eager to show their support?
This year’s festival is the biggest yet in London. Starting in 1981, London Pride started as a Metropolitan Community Church picnic. Sexual orientation has yet to be recognized as an equal right in Canada, and discrimination against homosexuals was appallingly high.
How times have changed!
In this year’s Pride guide, you can find a letter of support from the premier, and provincial ministers Chris Bentley, Deb Matthews, and Kathleen Wynne will be participating in the parade. Mayor Joe Fontana, the first mayor to march in the parade, will be participating again. I will also be marching in the parade with provincial and federal members of my political party. Allies are emerging from every quarter, and they are prouder than ever to participate in the Festival.
To me, Pride is a spirited celebration of how far we’ve come. This year for the first time, Pride is hosting the Trailblazers Gala, recognizing many people that have made a difference in the LGBTQ2 community in London as well as across Canada.
It is also a reminder of what is worth fighting for, and how far there is yet to go. Discrimination based on sexual orientation still occurs far too often. I hope events like Pride can open doors to respectful conversation about sexuality and equality.
Martin Withenshaw, president of Pride London Festival, told me, “My goal is to have people come, learn the history, take a little piece of it away with them, and share it.”
So why Pride? Our community includes the LGBTQ2 community; there is no division. We are the same people, with the same interests, the same problems, the same strengths. Sexual equality is everyone’s business, and I’m proud to stand up for that with my friends, my co-workers, my family, and the people who live around me.
Come join us at Pride this weekend. Have a great time and support your community!
Brian Gibson is a graduate of Fanshawe College’s Integrated Land Planning Technology degree program. He is a self-employed CAD technician, freelance writer and civic activist in the city.