It’s important to remember our history and where we come from. The people who fought for their rights and for the rights of their future children. In 1990 at Central Memorial Park in downtown Calgary there was a gathering of the LGBT community to fight the fear and ignorance that comes along with being gay. There were around 100 participants at the rally and most of them were terrified.
Back then it was perfectly legal to get fired, kicked out of your home, or discriminated because of your sexual orientation and gender identity. Before the event started, people handed out Lone Ranger masks to the individuals who wanted their identity to remain anonymous at the event.
However, 1991 goes down in history as Calgary’s first Pride Parade, with about 400 participants who came together to celebrate gender diversity. Unfortunately, the group had a number of threats thrown their way that caught the attention of the police. A SWAT team watched on the roofs of nearby buildings in case anything went wrong. Of course, there were protesters that harassed the group by spitting and yelling slurs at them. One individual, in particular, brought in pit bulls to scare them.
As the years went on, more and more people started to join the festival. At first, there were only around 400 people attending, but this year, 65,000 people came to attend the Pride Parade. There were numerous people who felt scared to be “out of the closet” and kept it as a secret. This pride event helped many people who wanted to be out and proud but didn’t feel accepted or loved. To them, this was their family that stuck together even when it felt like the whole world wanted them gone.
This year is Canada’s 150th birthday and this is an important part of our history. Canadians who come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or anything else now thank those civilians who chose to step out to the public for the first time. These brave Canadians decided to express who they are and fight for their identity, instead of staying silent. Today LGBT youth can gather for annual pride events all across Canada without fear. Still, we can imagine all the horrible things that go on in the LGBT community today, and while we will continue to battle the forces of discrimination and prejudice, we’ve come a long long way.