Windsor Pride Parade
Marriage March Continues - July 28th 2002
We arrived in Windsor on July 25 feeling optimistic, bouyed by the trial balloons the federal government had been sending through the newspapers. After a pleasent 4-hour train-ride from Toronto, we arrived in Windsor where we were welcomed by the site of a rainbow flag flying at the Windsor Radisson Hotel where we had been offered a free room for the Pride weekend. The generous gesture was much appreciated, as we pay our own travel and living expenses for our Pride activities in various cities across the country (our fundraising activity is for legal expenses only). Even the smaller considerations were looked after. The Raddison presented an information kit to the couples: "building on a decade of pride".
Our first official business was with Paul Vasey at the local CBC AM radio station on the morning of July 26. We chatted about the case, expressing optimism and hope that the government would follow through on their trial statements about same-sex marriage being "inevitable".
After the interview, not willing to rest on our expressed good wishes, we returned to our hotel where we began to assemble some of the advocacy signs we had brought to carry in the next day's parade.
The following afternoon, we joined the Canadian Auto Workers union Windsor Area LGBT Caucus for a pig-roast - a Hawaiian Night . This union has been very effective in working for social change on behalf of the GLBT community. Most recently they we had the pleasure of working alongside the CAW in the Marc Hall Coalition. In fact, Marc was at the roast, with his parents, sharing in the friendships that have developed through this mutual struggle. Marc was in town to be the Grand Marshal in the next day's parade.
It was our first opportunity to meet with Barb McDowall and Gail Donnelly and Hedy Helpern and Colleen Rogers. Both couples are with us in the Ontario marriage case, fighting for civil marriage. We were introduced to their son Andrew, their friends, and we enjoyed succulent roast.
Alas, we had to leave, before the crowd warmed up to using the twister games that had been laid out on the ground, beside the olive oil bottle.
The next day, we attended MCC worship outside the city's court house, near city hall. The same area was used later in the day for the final gathering place at parade's-end. Again, all three couples stood together in solidarity and faith. Afterwards, we retrieved the signs from our hotel room and brought them to the starting point of the parade, however, the signs were still blank - we hadn't applied the lettering for that day's march. So Hedy, Colleen and Andrew sat down at a table and captured key messages that they wanted to send to the public:
"ALL FAMILIES ARE EQUAL"
"EQUAL CHOICE FOR EVERYONE"
It was soon time for the opening ceremony for the pride parade, steps from where we were working on the signs. Cory Albert was recognized as Woman of the Year for the contribution she has made to the local community, including work with the Pride Committe, Women Out, Free to Marry, One in Ten, Legacy Club, TForce and other groups.
Jim Davies was Man of the Year in recognition of his contribution since 1971 when he was one of the founders of the "Windsor Homophile Association". He has marched, picketed and been fired for being openly gay (1979). Our achievements are built on his, and his generation's, hard work and accomplishments.
Marc Hall spoke eloquently about his support for equal marriage and told the crowd that he stood with us as we continue our mutual fight against discrimination.
Volunteers make Pride parades a success across the country and Windsor is no exception. The parade participants and town citizens were kept safe by a smiling police force and a large group of volunteer parade marshals.
Then it was time for the parade! We clambered up a hastily decorated tractor trailor flat-bed and hung on as we brought up the rear of the parade. Like London, the parade route was sparsely attended, but it was empty of protestors (unlike London) and we found it fairly easy to get onlookers, young and old, to wave back to us in response. One taxi passenger commanded her cab to a stop so that she could jump out and wave at us frantically as we rambled by.
The parade made its circuit and returned to our starting point where we had an opportunity to meet more of the community, refresh ourselves, and browse through the stalls. We couldn't find a Windsor pride T-shirt, so instead, we bought some (very) personalized towels. We left our signs behind with Hedy and Colleen and promised to return to carry them again next year.
As we did after our London Ontario visit, we call on the Toronto community to support our LGBT brothers and sisters in smaller Ontario communities. Come line the streets and encourage and applaud those who are working for our equality outside of the safety and tolerance of Toronto.
Remember too that you don't have to leave your home to work with us in partnership for equality. Change happens one person at a time. Please begin by writing letters to advocate an end to marriage discrimination.
Next Stop: Vancouver Pride on August 4, 2002! Please join us if you can.
Thank you to everyone who made our visit so special. We greatly appreciated your generosity and kindness. Special thanks to The Windsor Radisson Hotel, Cory Albert, Chris Cecile and the other couples involved in this great weekend!