“Pride, respect, community,” pronounced the rainbow words on the side of a float during Halifax’s 21st Pride Parade Saturday afternoon. “Put a little love in your heart,” pridesters on the float sang to smiling spectators lining the sunny curbs.
Participants and spectators – queer and straight – wore rainbow flags over the weekend to demonstrate their pride for a culture as well as a sexual spectrum.
For Sandra Bornemann, who held hands with her trans husband Julien Davis, Pride represents so much more than sexuality.
“It’s about visibility as well, because in the LGBT community, the T is often invisible,” Bornemann said. “We’re showing that it’s not so invisible.”
“It feels great,” Davis said. “It’s a way of having community and connecting.”
“Happy Pride!” celebrators shouted as they walked, danced and hoola-hooped down Barrington Street.
The first Halifax Pride Parade in 1988 was more of a protest, says Kevin Kindred, spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, a group that participated in Saturday's parade.
“There were about 25 people that took part, some of whom took part with bags over their heads so no one would recognize who they are,” he said.
Instead parade participants wore smiles Saturday. But Kindred said there are still important battles ahead of the movement, such as homophobia in schools.
“There’s a lot of homophobia that people experience at vulnerable times in their lives – when they’re getting health care, when they’re older,” he said. “The new face of the movement will try to eliminate homophobia in a way that has nothing to do with the law, but has to do with the realities in peoples lives.”
Four Halifax churches also challenged old stereotypes at the parade. Same sex couples marched with the united church group, showing that many churches welcome worshippers from the queer community.
“There’s a stereotype out there, for good reason,” Martha Martin, a Minister at St. Andrews United Church, said. “Some components of the church have had a long history of oppression, but the United Church of Canada is an inclusive church. We’re here to express our solidarity and to say that they’re welcome in our church.”
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter became the province’s first premier to join the parade, wearing a necklace of rainbow flowers and waving from the backseat of a car. One spectator sitting on the curb noted that corporate and political slogans were as visible as rainbow flags at this year’s parade.