A deluge of rain couldn’t dampen the rainbows as hundreds marched in the St. John’s Pride Parade on Sunday.
Members of the Indian River High School Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) were leading the way, after being invited to Grand Marshall the parade by the St. John’s Pride board of directors.
The group started a wave of conversation about how the LGBTQ+ community is treated in Newfoundland and Labrador following a request to the Springdale town council for a rainbow crosswalk in April. The request was denied, but 2018 marked the first year Springdale celebrated Pride Week, in no small thanks to the GSA’s efforts.
“It’s a happy feeling,” said Amber Patey, a member of the GSA.
“We started out with something that we were hoping to do in Springdale with the crosswalk and we got something else instead,” said Josh Stevenson, one of the organizers of the GSA.
“I think we can see an impact across the province as opposed to in our home town and for us, that’s even better than having a crosswalk.”
“I don’t think anyone could have predicted where this ended up going. Every day it was something new and different and sometimes incredibly frightening, other times very uplifting,” said Ruth Cameron, a teacher at Indian River High.
Derek Semerad, co-chair of St. John’s Pride, estimated a crowd between 1,600 and 1,800 strong turned up on Sunday — which means it was likely the largest Pride parade in the province’s history.
“It feels excellent. It’s been a four-month roller coaster. My eyes have been opened to both the issues in this town and the issues of the Pride board in the past. It’ll be very interesting to see what we can manage next year with a board that’s isn’t there for the interim, but for the full two years,” said Semerad.
“We’ve seen everything that could go wrong with a parade go wrong and we’re here anyway.”
Tory representation missing
Two of the three major political parties were represented in Sunday’s parade — with only the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador skipping Sunday’s event.
In a statement, the party explained why Leader Ches Crosbie couldn’t attend, but gave no reason why the party as a whole missed out.
“Mr. Crosbie committed to attending the Bay St. George Mi’kmaq Powwow this weekend on the island’s west coast. Mr. Crosbie believes the celebration and promotion of indigenous cultures are important steps in reconciliation efforts that are on-going across our country,” read the statement.
The party has had a presence at previous pride parades.
PC MHA David Brazil will read a statement on behalf of the party at Monday’s raising of the Pride flag at Confederation Building.
Comments from the street:
The Telegram spoke to many people after the parade about why they felt it important to walk. Here’s what they had to say:
“A lot of my friends are gay or bisexual and I just believe human is human so why not love everybody?”
“My church was involved — Cochrane Street United — so I decided to come along and support the crowd.”
“We wanted to show our pride. Even in the rain, our colours shine through.”
“My gender identity and my sexuality is an important part of who I am and I want to show other people that I’m proud of who I am.”
“To support everyone’s right to be exactly who they are. Love is love.”
“I’m a lesbian and I’m excited that my entire community — not just lesbians — but the entire LGBTQIS2SA community is here today.”
“It’s good for representation. We need to be represented in the community. It’s a good thing to do.”
“It’s bigger than just fun or community. I think it’s a more global issue – it’s about freedom.”
It’s my first pride. I wasn’t allowed to go to pride the previous year and I really wanted to go because it’s supposed to be really fun. I’m not really sure why, I just wanted to be gay in public.”