The list is long and depending on where we live in this world, our feelings of pride, whatever is important to each individual, must be celebrated and respected. So it is with LGBTQ Pride celebrations that are now in full swing, but alas, not everywhere.
As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, Canadians welcome celebrations with many festivals that give us an insight to the various backgrounds that exist. We learn that not all countries or all people are the same and even with discrimination being rampant, we remain mostly an accepting society in our country. This is quite an accomplishment taking into consideration that Canada became a confederation only 150 years ago.
Of course, we must take into consideration that our indigenous brothers and sisters were settled here for thousands of years. Folks came from all over the world since Europeans came on shore many years ago. Acceptance was not a word that was respected and only became somewhat of a positive a few years ago. Gay men and women became more vocal in a search for equality, just as all others.
The arduous and seemingly impossible task of success was complicated by diehard religious beliefs and conservative views. In the case of members of the LGBTQ community, the fights were on and in doing so some progress was realized around 50 years ago, but remained a struggle that minorities are subjected to even in 2017. We celebrate our advances in the West and we do so by remaining steadfast in our efforts to make a difference.
Recent Pride celebrations in Atlantic Canada, with examples of Amherst and New Glasgow, both in Nova Scotia, where attendance was fantastic, especially with rather small populations, were hugely successful. Later this month Halifax will join the yearly festivities. Problems remain, especially with police participation in that city, Toronto and Vancouver being challenged. A step decidedly backwards, but hopefully things will be sorted out by next year.
In the aforementioned towns of Amherst and New Glasgow, police participated in full uniforms and this gave a meaning of solidarity. Our lives are filled with challenges, regardless of causes, and in order to combat the turmoil we are obliged, for our own well-being, to take charge. One cannot and must not give in to the negatives, the feelings of rejection and the general feeling of worthlessness. Stand up, be counted as an equal to all others, make yourself heard, vocalize your feelings and be proud of who you are.
Our Pride celebrations give us the support and the opportunity to come together as one voice. The road to success is ours to grab and live our lives as they are supposed to be lived. A stable existence is our positive future and will result in living with inner peace and contentment.
Enjoy all who are your closest allies, be it family or friends. It matters not, as we are all part of this world. Above all, we must be true to ourselves.
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Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.