People from as far away as Toronto came to Fredericton on Sunday to participate in the city's first pride parade.
(excerpt's from article published by the Daily Gleaner, August 09/10)
Maurine Doherty, who was celebrating her birthday, flew in just to march alongside the hundreds of other rainbow-clad participants from across the Maritimes. "I had to come when I heard Fredericton was finally getting to have their first march," she said. Doherty, who teaches human rights and diversity classes at Centennial College in Toronto, said the parade is a great way to celebrate politics and pride. "It's what I believe in," she said. "It's about being accepted as full participants in society, having acceptance, having rights and marching for those people who do not feel safe in their communities, whether it be in Canada or other parts of the world where you can still be put to death for being gay."
Leading the pack with a rainbow umbrella and sash was Allison Brewer, a founding member of Fredericton Lesbians and Gays, and a former leader of the New Brunswick New Democratic Party. "It's been a long time coming," she said as her wide-brimmed pink feather hat flapped in the wind. "Pride is finally here in a very open and public way."
About 250 people walked in the parade that followed the river from the Victoria Health Centre to Officers Square, and about another 100 were waiting to meet the proud marchers. As the group approached the square, people lining the pedway showed their support with cheers.
Debi Stidmore, an organizer with the Fredericton Pride Committee, said that was the moment that brought tears to her eyes. "I had no idea how good it was going to feel to see all those people standing there cheering us on," she said. "It means there are so many more people willing to stand out and say yes to love and diversity. It's beautiful."
She said the parade is about visibility. "There's a lot of diversity in Fredericton, but sometimes you don't see it and we assume that everybody is just like we are. This is a moment to come out and say we're all people, we're all valuable, we're all different and different is beautiful," Stidmore said.
Sarah McAdam, the pride liaison for the Fredericton Pride Committee, said she was in tears the entire march. "Having so many people coming out to support us, having so many contingencies in the parade, means the community is finally coming together and recognizing that people are people. "We weren't pushing for a parade as hard in previous years because the city wasn't ready, but this year the city was ready.
The parade and festival kicked off Pride Week events, which will resume today with the reading of the Proclamation of Pride at city hall.