Today, Pride Calgary officially raises its flag at City Hall. For the first time in years I have decided to check it out before heading to work. At some point, a few years ago, my absolute elation with the Pride movement took an ugly turn, and even now, talking about it immerses me with anxiety. As most of you know, I (and dozens of other volunteers) spent 5 years digging Pride Calgary, the organization, out of a bit if a hole. The finances were iffy, our relationship with the city was tumultuous, and the faith of the queer community in Pride Calgary was toxic at best. I am so proud of the work that myself and all the volunteers that tirelessly dedicated themselves to serving a community that we all love. This was a part of my life that stands out above all others.
Once my tenure with Pride Calgary was done I moved to Toronto and worked just as hard for the Dyke March, but it was very different. In Toronto I was woken up to the realities of the injustices of the Pride movement and how I played a direct part in it. I was blessed to be surrounded by the best sort of Dykes in my committee who questioned me on my priviledge, called me out on my whiteness, and taught me how to recognize my cisgender priviledge.
I understood the need for $$ but the heartache of corporate greed. I felt like I truly understood the power of community, particularly when my mom was sick thousands of miles away and my people showed me how to deal by the simple art of crocheting banners of resistance. I also realized that this community of Dykes that I felt so connected to were not connected to the Pride Movement. We were seen as disruptive, grassroots, and political. I realized that Pride did not represent everybody.
When I came back to Calgary, I didn’t want anything to do with Pride, except for publicly challenging them with my new found knowledge. This hurt me more than helped because I was exerting my frustration with anger which was not fair to the current board and it was killing me inside.
Years later, I became much more aware of the injustices to the folks of colour in my community that felt unsafe at Pride. I was invited to listen to the community. I can’t thank these folks enough.
Today, I have began to do the things that matter the most to me. I am working with an amazing organization that empowers the kids in our community to be themselves and live as equals. These are the folks that are going to make it better. I am so excited for that.
So, for those who will take this.. Happy Pride, however you chose to celebrate and/or fight.
For those that do not, please know that this is ok too. There is no universal queer have-to-love Pride pact. Stay safe, take time for yourself.