How do I feel about GAY PRIDE parades and celebrations? I have had reservations about gay pride parades and celebrations in the past because I believed the things that people who have never gone before would say because of what the media focused on. Yes, you may see some nudity and yes you may encounter a festive and partying crowd but these things are evident in many celebrations that are considered to be mainly heterosexual like; Mardi Gras (New Orleans, USA), Carnival (Rio, Brazil), Caribana (Toronto, Canada). The only reason that television stations show the nudity, or the party animals is to get people to watch their broadcast and to instigate controversy – that is what sells and that is what people pay attention to the most.
I have attended many gay pride festivities, celebrations and parades and have only taken away what was important to me. I always got emotional when PFLAG (formerly known as, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) would march by in support of sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and mothers and fathers who happen to be gay. I was also filled with inspiration by people who lived authentically and marched in the parade indicating the fact that they were gay professionals such as; police officers, paramedics, firefighters, teachers, members of parliament, doctors, etc. The most emotional moment of pride parades of the past was when they had a minute of silence (die-ins) for those affected and that have passed due to HIV/AIDS.
Today, the message and advocacy continues but it is drowned out by those wanting to focus on the sensationalism of this celebration. I hear people say things like; “it’s a marketing tool for big corporations now”, “publicity for politicians”, “it’s just one big party without a clear message”, “it’s too mainstream now” – Isn’t this what the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community want? To become mainstream and not be victimized on a daily basis, to be considered outcasts and sexual deviants?
Most people who have issues with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are usually those hiding behind their religious ideologies and beliefs that being gay is a choice and that it is a sin. Well, as I have stated in previous posts – I DID NOT choose to be gay, I happened to be born this way. If I could so easily choose to be gay that would mean that any heterosexual could choose the same. If those people who live strictly by the world of God and what is written in The Bible – I say this: If God has created us in his image, than wouldn’t that make God gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, black, hispanic, German, African, Chinese, black-haired, blue-eyed, etc?
I know this – Many people have lost their freedom, died and have become martyrs for what they believe in such as; Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Dian Fossey. That is also true for people who marched for rights for gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered people. For me, that is what I celebrate when I celebrate GAY PRIDE – I celebrate that we have become mainstream and that corporations are raising our flag because so many gay, lesbian, bisexuals and transgendered people have lost their lives to ensure we have the rights and freedoms we have today because they lived their lives authentically and without shame.
HAPPY GAY PRIDE and THANK YOU to those who have paved the way:
JEREMY BENTHAM – Wrote first known argument for homosexual law reform in England around 1785 at a time when the legal penalty for buggery was death by hanging.
NEMAT SADAT – The first public figure from Afghanistan to come out of the closet as ex-Muslim gay, atheist, and Zionist. August 22, 2013, Sadat made history by being the first native from Afghanistan to come out as gay. Sadat is considered to have broken the taboos on cross-dressing and homosexuality by coming out and raising awareness about gender orientation and sexual identity. Since coming out, Sadat has received numerous death threats.
SVEND ROBINSON – As the longest-serving British Columbia MP of his time, in office from 1979 to 2004, Sven is notable for having been the first Canadian MP to come out as gay, in the spring of 1988. Robinson, a self-described socialist, is commonly regarded as being one of the most left-wing figures in Canadian politics. He is best known for his negative views on American foreign policy, especially towards Cuba, his challenge of corporate power, his strident criticism of Israel, and his strong support for Palestinian leaders.
CAMILLE CABRAL – French/Brazillian politician. The first transsexual woman to be elected in the history of the French Republic.
SHALEEN RAKESH – Poet and Gay Rights Activist. Shaleen has been an important part of the Gender and Sexuality Movement in India for over 20 years.
ARSHAM PARSI – Activist and founder of Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees. Lives in exile in Canada. Parsi has faced death threats and excommunication for his activism to ensure Iranian gay citizens are not being improperly treated.
HARVEY MILK – First openly gay politician to be elected into public office in California when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk served 11 months in office and was responsible for passing a stringent gay rights ordinance for the city. On November 27, 1978, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White.
NIKOLAY ALEXEYEV – Russian LGBT rights activist, lawyer and journalist. Alexeyev won the first ever case at the European Court of Human Rights on LGBT human rights violations in Russia. The Strasbourg-based court unanimously ruled that by banning threes Moscow Prides in 2006, 2007 and 2008 Russia breached three articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.
FANNYANN EDDY – Founded the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association, the first of its kind in Sierra Leone. Activist for lesbian and gay rights in her native Sierra Leone and throughout Africa. FannyAnn, traveled extensively addressing the United Nations and other international groups. She was murdered on September 29, 2004 leaving behind a 10-year old son and girlfriend Esther Chikalipa.
DAVID KATO – Was a Ugandan teacher and LGBT activist, considered a father of Uganda’s gay rights movement and described as “Uganda’s first openly gay man”. He served as advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda. Kato was murdered in 2011 by a male prostitute, shortly after winning a lawsuit against a magazine which had published his name and photograph identifying him as gay and calling for him to be executed.
JACKIE FORSTER – Was an English news reporter and lesbian rights activist. Founding member of Gay Liberation Front (GLF) in London and was on the first Gay Pride march in the UK in August of 1971. Was married to novelist, Peter Forster, but divorced him in 1962 when she realized her true sexual identity.
PATRIA JIMENEZ – Mexican politician and head of El Closet de Sor Juana (Sister Juana’s Closet). in 1997, she became the first gay member of Mexico’s legislature in the country’s history-the first in any legislature in Latin America. Both as a civil rights leader and a member of the government, Jimenez is a major Latin American voice for LGBT rights and civil rights.
KATHERINE ZAPPONE – She and her wife, Ann Louise Gilligan, founded An Cosan which supports individuals and communities to actively engage in the process of social change through transformative education. Katherine is the first openly lesbian member of the Oireachtas and the first member in a recognized same-sex relationship. She is a former CEO of the National Women’s Council of Ireland.
IRSHAD MANJI – Well-known critic of traditional mainstream Islam and was described by The New York Times as “Osama bin Laden’s worst nightmare”. Manji is an author, educator and advocate of a “reformist” interpretation of Islam. Born in Uganda of mixed Egyptian and Gujarati descent. Her family moved to Canada when she was four, as a result of Id Amin’s expulsion of Asians.
2015 GAY PRIDE is dedicated to all these people mentioned above for creating positive change in the world and for those not on this last – past, present and future for their efforts in making this world a more positive one!