Every year since 2011, I’ve done a photo series on the Vancouver Pride Parade (though now I’m branching out to other cities). Why? Because everyone in attendance at the parade is absolutely, unbelievably gorgeous.
I grew up in a place known nationally for its homophobia. Sexuality was always this distant, fringe thing, and anything outside of well-defined limitations was, well, something to be protested, not celebrated.
It turned out I was completely wrong. About a lot of things.
2011 was actually the first time I’d ever attended a Pride Parade, and I balled my eyes out. I’d never seen anything like it before, and I think, before that moment, there was a lot I still hadn’t understood. Mainly, that Pride wasn’t a celebration of an alternate side of humanity–it was a celebration of humanity at its best.
At Pride, a lot of filters are taken off. So many people who have felt the need to be quiet or ashamed about who they are just burst out of their shells. Everyone joins in on a celebration of how incredible and unique we all are.
There’s a brilliant transformation that takes place. Like I said, at Pride, everyone is gorgeous. You could get drunk off the self-confidence coursing through the air, all the fear and shame just cast away. It’s people as they are, as they want to be, and it’s impossible not to be struck by the beauty of it.
2016 was an important year for me to be attending Pride. Like I said, I grew up somewhere incredibly homophobic–mass prayer meetings with thousands of people happened at the mere suggestion that public schools should be doing more to protect gay students. At one point, a local university professor had published an article arguing that schools should actively warn kids against being gay, because homosexuality might cause cancer.
I’ve done what activism I can, but from half a country away, it’s been hard to even dent the bubble of misinformation and bigotry surrounding the area.
Thankfully, people greater than me decided the bubble had to go, and a month ago the city near where I grew up had its first-ever Pride Parade. When it was announced, the people in the area rallied against it. The city refused to issue a permit, the police refused to protect it, and the local businesses unanimously refused to support it. Every single member of the local government refused to attend. The local MP, Ted Falk, actually issued a written statement that not only was he not going to attend, but he would never attend, even if he was free. Which is pretty dickish.
They were expecting 200 people.
5,000 showed up.
I cried when I saw the photos.
I was sad I couldn’t be there, to join in on supporting all these kids growing up somewhere where their very existence is taboo, and adults who have had to keep their entire lives a secret. I wish I could have been there to tell them that the people making their lives hell are a dying breed, and that there’s so, so much love and support out there.
Instead, I’m celebrating here. I’ll take what I can get, and I’ll make sure to pass on that love and support wherever I go.
Today, I’ve started moving my photos to their own home, peopleofpride.ca. It’s a chronicle of how beautiful people are when they’re loved, a tapestry of age, sex, gender, colour, orientation, and a thousand other variables. And it’s something that gives me a lot of hope, a reminder that love is so, so much bigger than dickishness.
As always, the photos are free to use by non-profit groups and individuals for the purpose of promoting the LGBTQ community. If you need a high-res version, just get in touch. It’d be cool if you let me know if you’ve used one of them.
Anyway, enjoy the photos of People of Pride 2016. I hope you see what I see in them.