Shaun Proulx Shares Why Pride Still Matters
Queer people — especially those of a certain age like me (turning 54 soon) who didn’t grow up in a world with the acceptance Canadians now have of LGBTQ+ people — who grew up being told gay was a sin, or wrong, or less than; who didn’t see themselves reflected in society or in popular culture – we didn’t grow up as ourselves.
We grew up playing some version of ourselves, one we thought others needed to see, one that sacrificed authenticity to minimize humiliation and prejudice and risk and pain. The Herculean task of our adult lives is to pick apart which parts of ourselves are truly us and which parts are inauthentic, and to separate the truth from the lies. The lies we created to protect and save ourselves.
Pride celebrations are sacred spaces where one can do some of that untangling. I’ve seen so many Prides now and participated in every way possible. I’ve hosted stages, marched in the parade, gone to the circuit parties, protested, and celebrated. I am blessed to have been a part of great moments in the Pride movement: protesting the lack of AIDS funding when people were dropping like flies; equality; gay marriage, and the right to have children. And lately, the Black Lives Matter movement calling attention to the black experience.
Because Pride changes and evolves, every year I reflect on what Pride now means to me. South of the border, books containing LGBTQ themes are being pulled from library shelves. “Don’t Say Gay” bills are being signed. A U-Haul full of white nationalists on their way to riot at a Pride celebration were arrested. And right-wing conservatives are terribly worried about keeping drag queens away from kids. And because we’ve already seen that what happens in America can easily happen here, it’s not lost on me how easily our hard-won rights could be taken away. What we have gained as human beings is wanted back.
And so, with all this going on, this year’s Pride is a reminder to me of how what LGBTQ+ people have is all so fragile. We have to honour it; we have to show up; we have to realize that the movement must keep moving. I celebrate what we’ve gained, and I hold it tight, prepared to fight to keep it if that time comes. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels. Pride, the fully realized expression of the authentic self we once hid away, matters as much today as it did back when hiding in a closet who we really were was our only choice.