Advocacy News - Halifax Pride 2003
July 22, 2003
Halifax Pride - 2003
We were thrilled to attend festivities at Halifax Pride this year, as co-grand marshalls for the parade (July 19). Organizers were honouring same-sex marriage and the tremendous strides that were made this year for full equality. Nicky and Sue Perkins were our co-grand marshalls, in honour of their pioneering work for relationship recognition, as one of the provinces first couples to register their domestic partnership.
The parade in Halifax was bigger than ever, with media estimating between 4,000 and 5,000 participants and thousands more watching. It was triple the size of last year, demonstrating the great success of the organizers, as well as the excitement and engagement that has taken over communities everywhere across Canada.
Victories for same-sex marriage in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec have certainly contributed to excitement, but our opponents have also contributed to motivating people to join in the parades for equality. Parade participants arrived at the parade ready to challenge the intolerance of Members of Parliament like Elsie Wayne. Wayne angered the gay community when she recently bemoaned pride parades, telling couples who wanted same-sex marriage to shut up and stay home.
Thousands failed to take Elsie Wayne's advice, and instead, record crowds turned out to cheer and encourage celebrants who marched down Spring Garden Road, the city's main commercial street. It was the first year that parade organizers received permission to use this popular street that is jammed with restaurants, bars, and boutiques. Riding in the parade, it was hard to tell who were thrilled more to be going through the heart of the city, the participants or the citizens of the city, young and old.
Even on residential streets, where crowds were less numerous, people partied on balconies or relaxed on the grassy slopes of Citadel Hill to wave to the passing parade. It wasn't just the general public that seemed to be supportive. Police who cleared traffic along the route had pride flags attached to their motorcycles and the city councillor (District 12) Dawn Sloane read a statement from the mayor (who was away on vacation) that stressed the importance of diversity as a contributor to the city's well-being. Other politicians were in the crowd including former NDP leader Alexa McDonough.
In addition to the pride parade, we participated in the selection of next year's Pride Ambassador, visited with gay youth at the Log Cabin coffee shop, and joined revellers at Club N.R.G. and Reflections. Everywhere we went, we found that same-sex marriage was on the minds of people we met, and it was the subject most prominent in the media too.
"In the future, I'm hoping to get married and all of that," sixteen-year-old Mat Hicks told the Daily News (July 20, 2003), upon attending his first pride parade with his 20-year-old boyfriend.
Ottawa is merely formalizing the new law in legislation, but it seems most provinces want to hide behind Ottawa's initiative, rather than offering full equality to all of its citizens on their own, despite the federal Justice Minister's encouragement to begin same-sex marriages now.
Thanks to Jay and Ray (right) for being great hosts, and for their tremendous energy in making the weekend such a success. We wish to express our appreciation as well, to Kara Redden, Greg Nepean (media relations) and the many other volunteers who made Halifax Pride 2003 the best ever for this beautiful city. We hope to return, and think you should too, for future Halifax pride events.