From the Editor: Why we still need to celebrate Pride today

Art by @RESLUS

Art by @RESLUS

The first time I went to a Pride event was during the Toronto Pride Parade in June, 2019. Although it was extremely hot that day, it was incredible to see the love and acceptance people had for each other. A few months later, after moving to B.C., I attended the Vancouver Pride Parade in August and have been going ever since. 

Celebrating Pride has always been important to me as it hasn’t always been easy to accept myself and my sexuality, which is why it’s so crucial to show love and support to those who may have felt the same. After attending pride events over the last couple of years, I started to finally feel that it’s okay to be myself. 

This is not an uncommon feeling. Pride season, which takes place from June to September, is the time of year where we celebrate people’s true colours, accomplishments, and talents. It also commemorates the years of struggle for civil rights and ongoing human rights issues the two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (2SLGBTQ+) community still faces today. 

In Surrey, and many other cities across Canada, Pride Month is celebrated in June to honour the Stonewall Riots that happened in New York City from June 28 to July 3, 1969. 

The riots started when New York City police attempted to raid a popular gay bar called Stonewall Inn during the early hours of June 28 that year. As police hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, they were met with resistance, leading to six days of protests. This event sparked the 2SLGBTQ+ civil rights movement across the United States and Canada. 

Canada shares some of its own unique history with the first gay rights protests in Vancouver and Ottawa in 1971, and Operation Soap in Toronto during the early 1980s. 

However, there are some positive moments in Canadian history to celebrate. Some key events include Vancouver becoming one of the first cities in the country to have an official Pride march and festival in 1981, the federal government lifting the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military in 1992, and legalizing same-sex marriage in 2005. 

In recent years, Canada passed Bill C-16 in 2017, also known as the gender identity rights bill, criminalized conversion therapy in 2021, and lifted the blood ban in April last year, which was a lifetime ban on gay men donating blood. 

While there has been immense progress over the last few decades in Canada and other countries, Pride Month also serves as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done for the 2SLGBTQ+ community. 

Over the last few years, Canada and the United States have seen an increase in anti-LGBTQ protests. 

In B.C., there are still protests against SOGI 123 education in schools. SOGI 123 is an initiative that provides teachers and educators educational resources to make schools inclusive and safe for students under all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Additionally, libraries are canceling drag storytime events due to threats of violence and verbal attacks are being made on transit. This is not to mention that a non-binary teenager was beaten by their schoolmates in Mission in 2021, anti-trans messages in Langley and demonstrations in North Vancouver, and a person was allegedly assaulted at a trans-rights rally in Vancouver. 

Even in Ontario’s Niagara Region, there has been anti-LGBTQ+ vandalism on public schools, homophobic stickers placed throughout Thorold, and a Niagara Catholic school board trustee compared the Pride flag to a Nazi one. 

What is happening across Canada is not detached from the Stonewall Riots in 1969. 

While progress has been made for 2SLGBTQ+, more still needs to be done moving forward. Until everyone can feel safe and accepted everywhere, we still need Pride. 

Let’s celebrate love and acceptance not only this month, but for the rest of the year. Reflect not only on the accomplishments people have made, but what we can do to make it better for others.