Why I Had to Fly to Vallarta for a Proper Pride

Nelson Branco - CNEWS Canoe
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June 1, 2017


Members of the Puerto Vallarta police department proudly participate in the Vallarta Pride parade. (Nelson Branco/Postmedia Network)

Those ‘bad hombres’ sure know how to throw a Pride parade.

Yep, I had to travel all the way to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to experience a gay old-fashioned Pride celebration last week.

It’s been almost a decade since I’ve attended a Pride event, mainly because the rainbow brouhaha has lost its relevance for me.

Having marched proudly on the frontlines in the early ’90s when it was a life-or-death protest in many cases, Toronto Pride was vital if you were a part of the LGBTQ community back then.

However, in the mid-ish 2000s, our community finally received the equal rights we demanded, including the right to marry. (We’re still waiting for a law that allows gay men to donate blood that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised in his election campaign last year, but I digress.)

With Pride becoming increasingly corporate with each passing year — in the late ‘90s, major businesses realized they could advertise to millions of eyeballs on Yonge St. for a small entry fee — the parade devolved into more of a spectacle than a statement. Which is why I eschewed the festivities and celebrated quietly with friends and reminisced of all those lost who would’ve loved to see how far we have come in the fight for equality.

Also, it was a bit heartbreaking to speak to many gay young people who have no clue of our gay heroes who fought — and many died — for the liberties we enjoy today. (Try asking anyone under 30 who Oscar Wilde or Harvey Milk are. Conversely, you ask a black person who Martin Luther King is and he or she will have an answer.)

Yes, Pride is still important. There are still myriad LGBTQ issues the community grapples with and it is a milestone for anyone who is just recently out of the closet to attend their first Pride. I offer that the event needs to be reinvented in some way so it can more effectively reflect our history.

For those who marched back in the day, it wasn’t like any of us wanted Pride to continue. It was a temporary, annual protest to demand freedom and equality while owning our sexuality.

Although I’ve been absent over the years, I’m definitely boycotting Pride this year and heading to Montreal, instead. That’s because I’m disappointed with how Pride Toronto has forgotten the organization was founded on inclusion — and not exclusion.

As most know, Pride Toronto continues to draw criticism after acquiescing to Black Lives Matter Toronto’s aggressive request to ban police in uniform — gay or otherwise — from marching in this year’s celebrations and from having any official booths at the event, which takes place June 25. Police Chief Mark Saunders diplomatically announced his officers would only provide security for the event, which the taxpayers are on the hook for.

In Puerto Vallarta, a gay tourist mecca for the past few decades, the city not only allowed cops to walk in the parade — but for the first time, the entire police, medical and fire forces proudly sashayed down the boardwalk, including Mayor Ramon Guerrero.

Read the rest at CNEWS Canoe.

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