Naheed Nenshi: Why I march in Pride
I first marched in the Pride Parade in 2010. I was a long-shot mayoral candidate, it was a cold and rainy afternoon, and I think the number of participants in the parade outnumbered the number of spectators.
The following year, after I was mayor, I was asked to be the Grand Marshal of the parade. I said yes without hesitation. Later, many people asked me, ”are you afraid of the backlash?” After all, I was the first mayor to ever march in the Pride Parade, let alone be the Marshal.
I honestly never thought of it that way. Being the mayor means I get to be the mayor for all Calgarians. It means I get to go to work every day and stand up for everyone’s rights. And we all know that LGBTQ2S+ rights are human rights. So I put on my purple t-shirt and proudly got in that convertible at the front of that parade. (And, by the way, there was no backlash.)
Today, we’ve made so many advances in understanding and fostering LGBTQ2S+ rights and safety for all citizens, especially sexually diverse youth. But, like you, I worry that these advances are fragile.
The world today is a place of increasing anger and bitterness, the place where voices of intolerance and hatred seem to be growing louder and louder. And too many politicians are flirting with that fear, with the small minded and the intolerant for short term political gain.
Standing up to this means that every one of us has to stand up for every other one of us. Every one of us has to commit to the promise of this community: that it doesn’t matter what you look like or where you come from, that it doesn’t matter how you worship or whom you love. What matters is that you’re here. You’re in a place where you have the opportunity to live a life of dignity, to live a great Canadian life.
That’s why I’ve proudly proclaimed Pride Week every year. That’s why I flew a rainbow flag over City Hall during the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. That’s why I have fought for inclusion every single day.
And that’s why I will march proudly on Sunday.
I hope you’ll join me.
P.S.: Can you help ensure that we continue to move forward on human rights and dignity for all by supporting the campaign? You can get a lawn sign, volunteer, or make a donation – maybe $20.17 to mark this milestone year in human rights.
Photo by Neil Zeller from Calgary, Canada - http://neilzellerphotography.zenfolio.com/