REFOCUS BY GERARD VELDHOVEN
It may not be on many minds as yet, but I am taking a swing towards summer and a peek at what lies ahead in the way of Pride celebrations. These events are held throughout the world, even in countries where LGBT rights are not in existence, sometimes with dire consequences. The fight goes on and the organizers are determined to continue their efforts to attain the right to exist in peace.
We, in the Western Hemisphere have been celebrating Pride for a number of years. In a world where differences remain evident, we recognize and appreciate the opportunities we have in nations such as Canada, The Netherlands, Britain and a score of others. In our country, as an example, we indulge in celebrations that are equalled, if not superior to many others.
Toronto, Halifax, Montreal and Vancouver, among others, enjoy huge crowds and many participants. Thousands line the parade route in Halifax and the support is truly amazing. Musical events, parades and many other activities draw large enthusiastic crowds.
Big cities are not the only ones involved in Pride celebrations. New Glasgow, Sydney, Saint John, Sackville, NB, Moncton, Charlottetown and many others have the annual events. The reason for the celebrations is to acknowledge and celebrate the inroads the LGBT community has made in the last number of years.
The inclusion of our rights and freedoms in the Canadian Charter and protection under the Canadian Human Rights Act give us the ability to stand up and be counted as Canadians. We are proud and comfortable in our sexual orientation and gender identity and we celebrate that with PRIDE. There have been many instances in the past when gays could be refused in renting accommodations, not be allowed entry in a certain club because of sexual orientation. Gay couples could not dance at clubs and might be shown the door. There are countless examples of blatant discrimination that occurred over the years.
We now have protection under the law with the same rights as all others. Equal marriage, pension benefits, adoption and equal access to services are ours to enjoy. Refusal is no longer permitted under the law.
Of course, not everyone accepts sexual diversity and I do not need to give details as many of us have addressed that problem. There is much cause to celebrate our lives as members of Canada’s LGBT community, but make no mistake about it, the road to equal treatment is not yet ours to enjoy. Comments and information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.