I am fortunate to live in Canada that has embraced and legalized gay marriage. I am married to Trish who is my soul mate. I do not face hostility when I fill out a form that asks if I am married and I write “yes.” I live within a couple of hours drive from Toronto which has one of North America’s largest Gay Pride Parades.
When Gay Pride is at its fullest in the month of June each year, people flock to Church Street, which is our headquarters. By that I mean, we have a large community centre called 519, which is actually the number on the building. Cafes and shops fly the rainbow flag all year-long. It exudes with warmth and couples holding hands. Young
gays and lesbians flock from small rural towns to start to understand and embrace who they are in a safe place. I should add that while Canada has legalized gay marriage, there are always pockets of fundamentalist Christians, Jews or Muslims who do not agree to our life style. In small towns prejudice and violence can occur and so either gays/lesbians stick it out or they move to larger towns. That being said, many older gays and lesbians are retiring to smaller towns or out into the country.
In the Toronto Pride marches, it is amazing and joyful to see banners representing gays and lesbians in government, police forces, nurses, and other institutions. Teachers in public schools can openly march, but unfortunately, gays and lesbians in Roman Catholic Schools do not. While the Canadian Charter of Rights protects teachers in Public Schools, it does not protect Catholic teachers. A former Act of Parliament called the British North America Act (BNA Act) supersedes the Charter of Rights. The BNA Act of 1867 allowed Catholic Schools to have full authority in governing their schools and teaching Catholicism. The Catholic Bishops in the 1970s stated that they would not employ gays or lesbians. Yes, there are many gays and lesbians in the Catholic Schools as teachers and administrators but they are not openly gay. Perhaps, this new Pope, Francis, will bring some needed changes.
It is estimated that well over a million people attend Gay Pride week. They come from the States and the islands of the Caribbean. I have spoken to Jamaican gays and lesbians who take their major holidays to come to Toronto Pride. For weeks or days, they can feel pride and safe. Jamaica is not the only place that has a homophobic society, but I’ve met more Jamaicans than other persecuted brothers and sisters.
What I have found amazing is to see ethnic Canadians (obviously by their clothing) selling food for Toronto Pride. The Pride Week brings millions of dollars to the city. If Jamaica and other places got rid of their homophobia, each country would benefit from tourist jobs. The culture itself would benefit from being a diversified societ; a hateful society is not a happy society!
REMEMBER: WorldPride 2014! JUNE 20 – JUNE 29, 2014
WILL BE CELEBRATED IN TORONTO, CANADA. COME AND VISIT.