London Pride Parade
Marriage March - July 14th 2002
Two gay men who won an Ontario court battle to have their church wedding legally recognized were "on Cloud 9" after arriving in London last night to celebrate Pride Week.
"I'm not a second-class citizen anymore," said Joe Varnell.
I was offended by the large photo on the front page of the July 13 edition. It depicted two gays after winning a court battle to have homosexual marriages recognized by the province. I understand the media want to cover such news, but I urge you keep it to small articles without photos. The silent majority of Ontarians feel this decision is nothing to celebrate. It's a massive slap in the face to traditional families. I find the way you portrayed this issue morally offensive and an infringement on the rights of those who support family values.
Writer feels photo lacked news value
I would like to refer to the Saturday headline, Gays win right to wed (July 13). I think your newspaper must be desperate for a Canadian news story to use one half of the front page on a photo that is of interest mainly to gays. Surely, somewhere in Canada there must be a more newsworthy event. I hope this is not an example of your new direction.
London Pride - Only The Beginning
Toronto's GLBT Community Should Rally 'Round
It had been an incredible day - July 12, 2002. News of the Ontario judgement had spread quickly, and we had been kept busy all day with the media. We finished the last interview at 4 pm and we rushed to catch a 5 pm train bound for London, Ontario and the pride parade.
We arrived two hours later at the London train station where we were met by a reporter and photographer from the London Free Press who were there to capture the cover story for the Saturday edition ("Gays win right to wed" the headline read the next day, "A gay couple who sued for the right to marry is in London for Pride Week."). We still had one more photo session to do (for the cover of Voices), and a radio interview for a syndicated program. It wasn't until 10:30 p.m. that we were able to have some time to ourselves to reflect a bit on the incredible events of the day, before collapsing into exhausted sleep
We did more media work on Saturday, but we also had time to explore the city, where we found ourselves warmly greeted by strangers. We walked the parade route to the fair grounds to give ourselves an orientation before the parade the next day. At the fairgrounds we found a band rehearsing for a concert later that night. We couldn't linger, however, as we had signs to make in preparation for the parade the next day before we went out for some celebratory dancing in the local gay bar, Club 181.
The next morning, we were back in the bar, this time to attend a special pride Sunday worship service with London's Holy Fellowship Metropolitan Community Church. We greeted the Reverend Deana Dudley and enjoyed a worship service that delivered a message that GLBT people are God's people too; Gay by God. Afterwards we were able to hear how the Ontario decision had personally impacted members of the congregration and learn what it meant to them. It was inspiring.
The parade began shortly after 1:30. Starting from a parking lot beside Club 181, marchers walked under the nearly deserted Galleria shopping mall, and stepped back into the sunshine on our way to the fair grounds. Spirits were high and people were fabulous in their PRIDE. London is a city with wonderful restaurants and friendly service, but the conservative values keep people home from the parade, except for a few saintly supporters, and some faith-based protestors. It's easy to take part in the Toronto parade, but it takes guts to be visible when your neighbors turn their back on you or denounce your life.
The True Pride Spirit
It would be great to see the Toronto GLBT community come out in large numbers to line the parade route and support our marching LGBT brothers, sisters and families in London. They are working for us all in the often unfriendly rural areas of Ontario.
The spirit of London's Pride was perhaps best exemplified by the young woman, a local artist named Marcie Saddy, who came up to our vehicle during the parade with a big grin on her face. Her eyes sparkled with emotion as she presented us with a button. It read, "Will You Marry Me?" in black lettering on top of a rainbow background. I looked up at her in amazement, wondering where she had found button's like this so quickly - one day after judgement? She had a whole bag of them. Marcie looked at me and shouted gleefully, not quite above the music. I could just read her lips before she turned away to hand out some more.
"I made them!"
Thank you to everyone who made our visit so special. We greatly appreciated your generosity and kindness.