2012 Edmonton Pride Parade
Reflections of a Straight Participant
This is the first time I have attended a Pride Parade event. As a non-gay observer, I was impressed by three aspects of this event.
The first was the number of corporate sponsors in the parade. These included organizations like the ETS, Edmonton Fire Department (with a rainbow flag hanging out of the passengers window of a fire truck), a local major construction company, plus the TD Bank. The TD Bank’s T-Shirts read, “Loud and Proud.” Wow! Does the Canadian Bay Street community really get this issue? Apparently the gay market is worth many millions of marketing dollars. It appears that money does talk and the corporate world is finally seeing the financial benefits of being socially progressive in its marketing practices. Better late than never I say.
The ETS bus was emblazoned with the words, “Don’t be Afraid to Stand Out.” This was what touched me the most deeply. Who has not felt vulnerable and open to attack coming home late at night on a bus? If you are gay, this experience must be intensified by several fold. While Alberta and Edmonton represent the Wild Wild West, it appears that common sense and compassion towards all inhabitants is taking hold.
It was also consoling to see the presence of unions like the AUPE represented in the parade flotilla, plus its VP of communications wandering within the crowd at the end of the parade.
The second thing about this event that impressed me was the number of young children in attendance in the crowd. Exposing these children at a young age to gay friendly events will go a long way to ending homophobic attitudes. The children’s enthusiasm for the excitement of the event was encouraging.
The third thing that impressed me about this event was the enthusiasm and joyfulness of the participants and the observers on the sidewalks. The joyfulness of the participants and the onlookers was contagious. It was a truly joyful experience for all, regardless of sexual orientation.
As a former simple-minded neo-con, I felt that I had experienced an epiphany beyond my current comprehension. At the end of the parade I and my guest walked with the contingent of non-official participants to the end of the parade route. I felt proud of my small contribution towards mine and the general state of social progress.