Pride Month: A look at How Influential LGBTQ+ Canadians Are Celebrating Pride This Year

As Pride Month begins around the world, we cannot forget about the courageous actions of activists like Larry Kramer, Marsha P. Johnson, Vito Russo, Sylvia Rivera, and Arsham Parsi, who led and guided the movement to what it is today.

Throughout this month, we will spotlight influential voices in the LGBTQ+ community and gain insight on how they’re honouring pride during these unprecedented times.

Tynomi Banks, Drag Entertainer

Photo courtesy of Bell Media.

“Pride means the same thing to me all year round. Pride is not just one month, I see it as continuous throughout the year.  However, Pride month is amazing because there’s more of a spotlight on the community and our allies, which is important. Pride month is always a great reminder to me about making new connections and strengthening old ones.

During this unprecedented Pride month, I’m trying to stay as connected as possible, letting everyone know the community is alive and well! We are very welcoming and I want to show continued support to our community and performers. I’m using my Instagram Stories to stay connected and entertain through my live shows and sharing funny memes. More than ever, people need to laugh. I receive a lot of messages from people who are feeling depressed about self-isolation, they want some sort of connection and they seem to really enjoy my account so I’ll keep giving the people what they want! I want to be that light in people’s darkness. It’s important all the time, but especially right now.”

Samira Mohyeddin, Journalist, Writer, and Co-Owner of Banu

Photographed by Samra Habib.

“The meaning of Pride month has changed for me throughout the years, as Pride itself and my relationship to the LGBTQ+ community has changed. At times, it has been tumultuous and at other times tantalizing. But one thing it has always remained is steady. I don’t take Pride month for granted. I am glaringly aware of what it means to be able to hold my partner’s hand while walking down the street and not feel like I could be punished for it; by the state or by my peers. I come from a country where LGBTQ+ people are systemically persecuted and prosecuted. I am very aware of my privilege and that is why I continue to march year after year. I view it as a responsibility to be visible because I often get letters from Iranian parents of LGBTQ+ kids or Iranian LGBTQ+ people who are just coming out and they thank me simply for not hiding who I am. I could be cynical and say Pride month has turned into a corporate parade and has lost touch with its roots but I always remember the thousands of people around the world who don’t have the luxury of living out loud or living their truth. That is how I honour my community every day; by being vocal about who I am and living out loud and providing space for other community members to do the same. Hopefully, one day, we will march in Iran too.”

Anna Daliza, Writer, Actor, and Model

Photographed by Maya Fuhr for Nouveau Riche.

“When I think of Pride month, things that come to mind are parties that go on until dawn, music that fills the entire city, dancing in the packed streets, the march and the parade, the signs, the stages, the looks, and the euphoria of being surrounded by my community. It was in June of last year, at Toronto Pride that I met my girlfriend, Luis. I had seen her around the community, and I even knew her name, and when we locked eyes at the Trans March, my life changed. Days later, while I was waiting for friends to rejoin me near a stage on Church, a man walked casually up to me and put his hand between my legs, wrapped his other arm around me and lifted me off the ground. I let out the loudest scream that has ever left my body. When he put me down, I looked around me, mouth agape, my entire body shaking. He had gone, and crowds of people stood around me staring.

“I think this anecdote does well to describe my broader feelings about pride: It’s a double edged sword. Being proud is a feeling we all want and deserve to enjoy. But what if being proud means putting yourself at risk of violence? While I am proud be a Middle-Eastern trans person, I am careful where and how loud I say it. And I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that at Pride events, where I boast that title most unapologetically, I’ve been assaulted the most. Although Pride month is well-intentioned to create safe spaces where everyone is celebrated, there is bad along with the good.

“Many of us have hang-ups about Pride, and I’m not the only one whose had their fair share of bad experiences, but we do our best to enjoy it, because it’s ours. And with its cancellation this year, on top of a seemingly never-ending lockdown that is impacting mental health more than we can now measure, I’m worried for my extended, sometimes dysfunctional, family. Make no mistake, we queers have equal parts creativity and resourcefulness running through our veins, and we’ll make it werk with what we’ve got, but we’re not invincible. I know we’ll all be feeling a little lonely this season, and this Pride Month especially.

“My goal, in everything I do, is to make life better for me and my community. I encourage my sisters and my extended family to take this time to reflect on their personal efforts in that respect. How can we work together to make the world a better place? With visibility of trans people on the rise, we’re off to a good start, but I believe we need more profoundly diverse voices and representation in all media. I want a show on Netflix starring a trans person who doesn’t pass; I want to read a novel about a trans woman whose story has nothing to do with her transition; I want more success for writers like Kai Cheng Thom, models like Aaron Philip, artists like Vivek Shraya. I want a lot for this community, and I know that change is incremental, but we are the very agents of change we so desire. The best of all that we can do during these unprecedented times is listen to one another, listen and learn.”

Here are are resources and organizations supporting the LGBTQ+ community: