Last weekend John and I participated in our first Pride festival, Pride London, starting with the interfaith service.
The service was led by a pastor from a local United Church of Canada congregation and mostly focused on reconciliation and hope. It was moving and lovely, a great start to the day. I'd really like for my church to participate in Pride next year, and it was interesting to get a sense of what we could participate in, and what other church groups were present.
After the service, we met up with our friends to march with General Population in the parade. We saw lots of other groups getting ready to march. For example:
The New Democratic Party (below in the orange) and the liberals were both present. I assume both parties participate every year, but they were especially vocal as we're about to have a "by-election." From what I can tell, it's an election for some Ministers of Parliament (MP) in our area. It's sort of like an election for a representative to your local state house or senate, and it seems to be happening only in the West part of London where we live.
Anyways, back to the parade, we saw the Regional HIV/AIDS Connection.
And our group was right behind ARF - Animal Rescue Foundation Ontario. We saw lots of dogs who were excited for Pride!
John and I marched with a sort of mix of people from UWO's Women's Studies department, our local Graduate Teaching Assistant Union, and Gen Pop, which I've mentioned before.
Several people present overlapped with all three categories - students, TAs, and fans of Gen Pop.
John and I walked with bookmarks with info about UWO Women's Studies degrees and handed them out along the route.
The "Keep London Queer" banner didn't fare so well in the breeze, but it looked great. In this photo you can see the roller derby girls, the Violent Femmes, waiting to move behind us.
The dogs from ARF made their way out, bedecked with floral collars. I can't wait to dress our greyhound in a rainbow bandana next year!
I took a picture and cheered for the church groups I saw, including Metropolitan United Church. All but one church group were from the United Church of Canada, the other being Unitarian. It would be great if my Anglican church could participate next year!
We marched behind a pick up truck that played a special Pride playlist to keep us energized for the parade. Anders and Matthew held the Gen Pop banner.
Several people commented on how buried the parade mostly was inside the neighborhood along Queens Ave. Not surprising in conservative London, really. I was pretty impressed with how many people were out to watch the parade, as well as the size of the parade itself.
We only encountered a handful of conservative Christian protestors. Counter-protestors tried to cover up their signs with rainbow flags.
They quietly held their signs. And this man was peaceful enough to take a photo with some of our group.
As we exited the park we saw a car painted to celebrate Druids for Pride. It takes all kinds to celebrate Pride.