TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA. As Pride celebrations are being held in various parts of the world this June, and even as the LGBTQIA community observes the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot that saw the establishment of the modern LGBTQIA movement , the relevance of the continuing holding the celebration is being highlighted by LGBTQIA leaders here at the WorldPride 2014.
In welcoming participants to the WorldPride Human Rights Conference 2014 (WPHRC14), held concurrently with the festival, Brenda Crossman and Doug Kerr, co-chairs of WPHRC14 stated that even in Canada, where the LGBTQIA community members have seen advances in the promotion of their equal rights, “it is important for many to acknowledge that for many, human rights remain elusive” with poverty and inequality facing Two-spirited indigenous people, discrimination against LGBTQIA people with disabilities, trans rights, the rights of sex workers, the acceptance and support of refugees, the challenges arising from HIV and AIDS, and supporting LGBTQIA youth among the major issues still being faced.
“One of the main reasons we celebrate is because it’s fun and part of being LGBT is celebrating what we accomplished,” Kerr said to Outrage Magazine. “But another part of Pride is understanding that it’s not over, there’s more work to do. The point of having Pride is having fun, and committing yourself to do more work for equality, for justice.”
Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, seconds this.
“We celebrate Pride because we need to energize our movement. Because new people and more people have to come out of the closet to experience what it means to be free, open, self-affirming and empowered to change the world because we came here to change the world and nothing less,” Wilson said to Outrage Magazine.
Meanwhile, for Mr. Gay World 2013 Christopher Michael Olwage, Pride creates awareness as it also serves as a “political statement, a statement of solidarity for those (who do not have the same rights that we have).”
Globally, since 2006, WorldPride has been naming International Grand Marshals (IGM), individuals from various parts of the world who made significant contributions to the promotion of global rights. For 2011, Angie Umbac of Rainbow Rights was the IGM.
Pride marches are always a struggle between the political and the cultural, said Umbac. For many, when they start, it’s always just political; but then, eventually, sponsors come in and at times dictate Pride’s direction.
“This is how I see it: Pride belongs to everyone… But if you have a cultural Pride without the background of why we are having Pride, then we would lose the message,” Umbac said. “Keep it balanced – stay corporate because you need the funds, but remember that in the beginning it was political, and it was political for a reason.”