Justin Trudeau and LGBTQ activists march in the 2014 Pride Parade: photos
Participants in the 2014 Vancouver Pride Parade agreed that the political struggles of past generations have paved the way to today's LGBTQ rights.
Activists, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community, supporters, tourists, and politicians packed the streets from Robson Street to Sunset Beach at the 2014 Vancouver Pride Parade.
Gone are those days when the parade, which was more of a protest against injustice than a celebration, took place on just one side of the street from Nelson Park to Alexandra Park. Today, the event has moved from the margins to mainstream, with businesses, banks, and prominent political leaders showing their support for the LGBTQ community. This year, federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau took part in the march as well, mingling with the crowd and taking photos with people on the street.
But besides the institutional support for the Pride Parade, many other things have changed in the last 36 years. So what does it mean for the attendees to be out in 2014?
Inspired by a similar question asked by New York photographer Ruddy Roye at this year’s Pride March, I decided to ask the question to some of the participants at Vancouver’s event. Here's what they said:
Equal access “without discrimination”
“It’s the freedom to be yourself, to have your human rights respected, to have equal access to housing appointment and services in the community without discrimination from any sources political, religious, or economic. That’s what it means to me,” said Jim Prest, who has been involved with Vancouver’s movement since 1971 together with his partner of 35 years, Will Raymond. “And he was out before Stonewall,” said Prest proudly, referring to the 1969 riots in New York.
Things have definitely changed, he said. “Before, when you were at the office or something you had to be low key because there was a lot of prejudice out there. We are both retired now. We can be as obnoxious as we want,” Prest laughed.
Jim Prest and Will Raymond. Photo: Valentina Ruiz Leotaud.
“A role model to younger people”
“I think it’s really important to be a role model for younger people and for people who are still questioning. That’s what the Pride Parade has been for me since I was a teenager and first saw it to now, 15 years later, being in it and being proud. It’s just getting that visibility,” said Kathryn Best from the Double Rainbow Dodgeball League.
Kathryn Best (right) and her partner. Photo: Valentina Ruiz Leotaud.
“Not have to worry about my safety”
“It’s very liberating to be able to just do whatever I want. I come from a third world country so to be able to live here and just be myself and not have to worry about my safety… Once you are able to actually be out and to represent yourself as who you are, then you are able to fully be yourself,” said Justin Saint, who has been wearing costumes to the Parade since 2008, a year after he came out.
Justin Saint and Nakita Star. Photo: Valentina Ruiz Leotaud.
“I’ve gone through everything for it”