It could be because it’s my birthday month or maybe it’s because Pride is around the corner or maybe it’s because I spend my days with young people whose lives started years after Canada’s marriage laws changed; whatever the reason, I feel like a walking history book lately. In many ways, it makes me so happy to live in a time where 2SLGBTQ+ people can be parents, married if we choose, and generally able to be safe in our workplaces. As much as I’d like to play it cool and say that it’s not a big deal, I still like seeing Pride flags hanging at schools. I love seeing the exuberance and voice that so many young 2SLGBTQ+ people exude and proudly share. I’m grateful for gender-neutral washrooms that make public spaces safer for people and for times when I can buy my partner a queer anniversary card at a store in my neighborhood or have a romantic dinner at a local restaurant. Ok, that last part might be a stretch because with three kids under ten there’s not a lot of getting out. That said, I’m joyful for the progress and hopeful for the future.
I’m also really aware lately of how the safety and growth that has happened in Canada came about because of courageous people who lived with pride, faith, and dignity in times of ignorance. This Pride season and always, I’m thankful for those brave people who danced, protested and labored graciously through difficult conversations and harder experiences. I’m thankful for those who loved in times when the laws and the minds of society weren’t yet ready to protect us or see us as worthy and valued people. I remember our family friend, the deceased, Ms.Mowat who for decades loved in secrecy someone else’s wife because “beards” provided them cover and safety. I remember the AIDS victims whose bodies were disposed of in garbage bags but whose legacy and strength spread faster than the virus. I remember the early days of the Friday Night Trans March in Toronto and hearing stories of people shooting firecrackers at the marchers. I remember Operation Soap and years later the cops who tossed us out of bars not because we were drunk but to put us on public display. What they didn’t know was that they were embarrassing themselves, not us. The same way that when Black Lives Matter brought Toronto Pride to its knees in 2016, it caused us all to stop and remember the reason for the party. The truth is that Pride is and has always been about liberation and relentless defiance against oppression and the politicization of our lives.
There is an element of that spirit of Pride in every day of Revolution Now. As first-time vendors in Toronto’s Pride Festival, we hope that you all will come out and find us and share in that dichotomy of joyful rebellion. We hope you will feel the energy of a truly grassroots movement, one born with the bold message of a young person and a growing force for radical social change. This Pride, we hope that you will share with your friends the message of Forrest Woods’ that “We Change What We Must” and that you’ll buy some of our new buttons by 18-year-old Rio Bailey. We hope that you will help us in amplifying the messages of these young transgender artists and in doing so, help us to generate funds for 2SLGBTQ+ programming at the 519.
In this time in history where it’s easy to feel exhausted and disconnected, we encourage you to stand on the shoulders of our brave 2SLBGTQ+ ancestors. Community and allies alike, come party with us at Pride and let’s go change the world!!