Happy Pride Month, everyone! Pride marches and celebrations have been held annually since June 1970, giving all of us an opportunity to champion LGBTQ rights – and, to party down.
Did you know that in February of 1988, British Columbia MP Svend Robinson came out as Canada’s first openly gay member of parliament? Pretty cool right!
Having many Friends and close family members being apart of the LGBTQ community, Pride month has always had a special place in my heart, And for anyone interested in sexual health and sex education, the queer community has given us so much: nuanced language for gender and sexuality, inspiring examples of activism and advocacy, and role models of sexual expression. So if you, like me, want to celebrate this month right, here are some ways to do it.
- Educate Yourself On Pride History!
Educating yourself is always number 1!!
The Stonewall Uprising is a story worth reading. When police raided the Stonewall Inn in NYC’s Greenwich Village, ended up being violent with patrons, the patrons fought back – a turning point moment for gay rights in the USA. In the aftermath, queer folks organized for liberation, arguing they should be free to live their lives openly, without fear of being arrested.
When asked about the history of pride, often the first thing that comes to people’s minds is Stonewall Riots. Canada, however, has it’s own rich history and turning points in the struggle for and eventual celebration of LGBTQ rights.
On May 14, 1969 Canada decriminalized homosexual acts between consenting adults with the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Act first introduced in December 1968. It receives royal assent on June 27. One day before the Stonewall Riots took place in New York!
On August 28, 1971, roughly 100 people from Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and the surrounding areas gathered in the pouring rain at Parliament Hill for Canada’s First Gay Liberation Protest and March. They presented a petition to the government with a list of ten demands for equal rights and protections.
Simultaneously, another much smaller group of roughly twenty gay activists demonstrated at Robson Square in Vancouver.
On December 15th, 1973 Homosexuality is removed as a “disorder’ from the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders.
In January of 1974, The Brunswick four are arrested at the Brunswick Tavern in Toronto. Some historians believe that the arrest and its consequences was a key incident ushering in a more militant gay and lesbian liberation movement in Canada, much as the Stonewall Inn Riots politicized gays and lesbians in the United States.
This was also one of the first occasions that a gay or lesbian topic received extensive press coverage in Canada. The women brought charges against the officers subsequently for verbal and physical police harassment, however the officers were acquitted due to their switching their hats and badge numbers making them unable to be accurately identified.
Receiving royal assent on June 20, 1996, the federal government passed Bill C-33, adding “sexual orientation” to the Canadian Human Rights Act which covers federally-regulated activities. Parliament enacted Bill C-33, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, to include sexual orientation among the Act’s prohibited grounds of discrimination.
There’s so much more history when it comes to Canada’s Pride history, I highly recommend looking into it!
- Get To Know Your Desire Style
One of the most powerful legacies of the gay rights movement is the ability to play with language – especially when it comes to your desire style, and who or what turns you on. Pride Month is an ideal time to get more familiar with the contours of your own sexuality!
- Practice Self-Acceptance
Working on self-acceptance will boost your confidence and the way you come across to others. Remember you have the right to love who you want and no one can take that away from you. Gay people are no different from anyone else in terms of desiring happiness, relationships, and love and having dreams and goals for life. It can also be helpful to recognize that you’re a multi-faceted being and being gay is just one of many facets — just like having blue eyes, being artistic, or an upbeat disposition is. Although you may be different to your family and friends, you can choose to live life authentically and true to who you really are.
Although coming out can be a confusing time, it’s a great opportunity to work on cultivating your identity. By practicing self-acceptance, expressing your individuality, and finding gay friends, you can become comfortable and confident with who you are.
- Get Involved with Queer Rights!
June is also an excellent time to volunteer with organizations who support and protect members of the LGBTQ community. Here are some options:
♥ Egale Canada
Advances equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-identified people, and their families, across Canada.
♥ The 519
A meeting place and focus for its vital and varied downtown Toronto community. Within a supportive environment it responds to community issues and needs.
♥ PFLAG Canada
PFLAG Canada. A national voice that speaks for a more accepting Canadian society by providing support, education and resources on issues of sexual orientation.
QMUNITY is a non-profit organization based in Vancouver, BC that works to improve queer, trans, and Two-Spirit lives. We provide a safer space for 2SLGBTQAI+
OUTSaskatoon builds community for LGBTQ2S+ people of all ages and backgrounds. We provide peer support and counselling, queer-specific education.
♥ Rainbow Refugee
Reaching Out Assisting Refugees (ROAR) is a Nanaimo LGBTQ & Allies association which sponsors and resettles sexual/gender minority refugees.
♥ Rainbow Resource Centre (RRC)
Sunshine House Inc. Winnipeg, MB. Sunshine House is a community drop-in and resource centre focusing on harm reduction and social inclusion.
♥ Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. A premiere gay and lesbian theatre, founded in 1979 in Toronto. Each year Buddies presents its exciting, high profile season.
♥ Lgbt Pride Centre Of Edmonton
The Pride Centre of Edmonton is a registered charity that was incorporated in August of 2004
♥ Vancouver Pride Society
LGBT Vancouver not only works on issues regarding the LGBTQ community, but it is an all-year service that focuses on many social justice issues.
♥ FOUNDRY KELOWNA
Foundry Kelowna brings together more than 25 different programs and organizations that will address the health care needs of youth ages 12 to 24 years and their families. This includes mental health services, primary care, and peer support services.
♥ ETCETERA YOUTH GROUP
Etcetera is a weekly, facilitated LGBTQ+ program hosted at the Foundry for youth age 11-18.
The Etcetera Parent Network is a once a month meeting for parents and guardians of LGBT2Q+ youth based in Kelowna BC
As someone who has 2 amazing LGBTQ brothers trying to find there footing in the community, it’s extremely important to me to spread awareness. If you know anyone struggling here are some instant help lines, don’t be afraid to reach out, you are loved!
LGBT Youth Line:
(support by phone, text, and online chat—Canada based)
The Trevor Project: phone 866-488-7386
(LGBTQ+ hotline/lifeline, text, and online chat service—USA based; also has peer chat space and online books and worksheets)
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (LGBTQ+ affirming hotline/lifeline that also has chat services)
Whether your Pride Month involves volunteering, a parade float, or rainbows aplenty, loving those who are of the community, I hope you enjoy this time of celebration and activation. Pushing for equal rights isn’t limited to just one month – but this month especially – let’s give thanks to the queer activists who gave us permission to love who we want to love ♥