There we were. The 49 of us. In rows of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. Each of us carrying the 8X10 colour photo of someone we lost last year in a horrible act of hate. The #OrlandoPulse tragedy reminds us of why we do what we do.
As Katy Perry’s Unconditionally played loudly, we walked in somber silence around Nanaimo’s Commercial Street. The crowd took an audible breath, stood, and showered us with applause. People were visibly moved. Hands were placed over hearts, tears were allowed to fall without shame, and children asked “Mama, why are you crying?”.
It was one of the single most profound experiences of my life. I am NOT one to cry, let alone in public. #NanaimoPrideParade2017 caught me in a way I didn’t expect. All through the planning of the living flag march, I felt pressure. I thought the pressure came from the stress of obtaining and wrangling 49 volunteers–some that I had never met. On reflection, I realized the weight of paying honour to people who died for who they love was so important to me. IS so important to me.
My dream is to live in a world where I no longer worry for my friends in same gender relationships walking down the street holding hands, where I no longer worry about my friends getting beat up when they use a public washroom, where I no longer worry how to get the homophobic abusive person out of the safe space without incident. Until these things become a reality, I choose to remember and to persevere.
If you would like to help these efforts, check out our Represent Campaign #HumanityNeedsYou where ALL proceeds from EVERY sale go towards helping people facing those and many more stigmas in Nanaimo’s community.