Sunday, July 06, 2014

Over the Rainbow

It's Pride week in Victoria, BC. Today is the last day of events culminating in the traditional (seems funny to use that word here) parade and festival attended by thousands and thousands in our community and beyond. It's a grey sky morning and I am hoping, for the sake of the organizers, volunteers and all those attending for the 30th time or the first, that the rains will remain at bay and all will go well. 

Today, I look back over the years to the first Pride parade I attended at 20 years of age. I didn't go when I was 19, afraid that someone (mostly my mother) would see me and my life would be over. By 20, I worked up the nerve to attend though I remember being terrified that someone would do something: jeer at me, throw something, laugh and point, or that we might have been arrested or caught in a battle. Not an unrealistic fear, as it turns out. I have been beaten and jeered at and harassed for who I love throughout the 32 years I have been out of the closet. I still deal with ridiculous comments and both clandestine and open discrimination. I don't remember enjoying Pride with considerably less fear until the last five or ten years. It seems to me that there has been a shift in our country, that something has changed and more people, not just LGBT community members, started coming to the events in greater numbers. 

Has there been a shift in the humanity of the people of Canada? I believe so. I believe that the greatest difference is in people's hearts. Human rights issues are now more commonly considered to be issues of all people. Infringements on the rights of all peoples are the responsibility of all peoples. We are not free until we are all free. Make it your responsibility to read about the history of LGBT rights in Canada and around the world. Realize that there are people imprisoned or killed in many nations around the globe for who they are and who they love. Make it your business to pay attention and respond. Love belongs everywhere. Remember those who have fought and the price they have paid.

Today before I go out and celebrate, before I enjoy the parade and laugh and cheer with friends, I remember all of those who have gone before me - all of those who fought, who paid with their lives or their freedom and all of those who continue to do so. I know that we must remain diligent; we cannot rest until we are all free. 

Pride is not a "gay thing". Pride is for everyone: a time to hold our heads up high and shout out: "I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses... I am good... I am strong ... I am worthy, ...I belong." -Gloria Gaynor 

We are all in the spectrum of the rainbow and perhaps it is over the rainbow and on the other side of it that we will look back and see ourselves as one, perfect in our difference and vital in our desire to love and live with kind kindness in our hearts. We ARE family.

Happy Pride to everyone. To those of you around the world who read this and run the risk of jail, torture or death because of who you are and who you love, to those of you who must hide and fear for your lives, know that you are not alone and that I, and so many others, raise our voices for you and will take action for justice. We are not free until you are free. 

In light, love and respect,

-Gillian Cornwall, c. July 6, 2014.

A "few" folks join in with the 2012 parade in Victoria, BC!

I dedicate this post to the beautiful, hard fought life of my brother, 
Christopher John Cornwall ~ RIP

Please take a few moments to check out the following organizations:

Human Rights Campaign:

Victoria Pride Society:

You Can Play Project:

Human Rights Watch:

United Nations - Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

LGBT History in Canada:

If you have more links of interests or comments, please send them in comments.

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