Many reasons to march

Pride parade helps to celebrate progress, fight prejudice

Amma Bonsu, Arts ’02
Amma Bonsu, Arts ’02

The question still stands. Why march?

In the past few weeks Pride Parades have been held in various cities, including Kingston. Society has come a long way since the day when a ghastly silence greeted the first Kingston Pride Parade, or when the city expressed shock over two gay men kissing in front of City Hall. Now the Pride Parade is celebrated by a wide spectrum of the community and last year, the first Reel Out/Queer film festival was met with a positive reaction.

However, it seems as if this is as far as society wants to go.

It is important for any marginalized group in society to exhibit their colour, sex and sexuality in public to state that they are proud of who they are. Gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals and trans-identified people are members of the community and should not be excluded from it.

Recently Bill 75 was passed entitling two people living in a conjugal relationship to spousal rights, including spousal support and protection, under the Matrimonial Property Act. On June 4, in Nova Scotia, two women legally registered their same-sex relationship. Even in our little world of Queen’s, we have reason to parade in flamboyant colours. The committee called Queen’s Law Queer is the first caucus of its kind to be recognized by faculty and administration in any Canadian university. Advocates at Queen’s have also established the Positive Space program, ResLife house training and the Queer forum called EQUIP. These programs strive to ensure that the University is a queer-friendly environment where students and members of the Kingston community can educate others and raise awareness.

And so we march. We march to celebrate accomplishments, but also to challenge discriminatory laws and traditional mind-sets.

Our bias still lurks, hiding behind the screen of political correctness, finding covert ways to discriminate between heterosexuals and homosexuals. Despite the programs and parades, there is still cruelty. We hurl out names like, ‘dyke’, ‘lesbo’, ‘limp wrist’, ‘homo’, and ‘sissy.’ Before any legal right that is exclusive to heterosexuals is extended to same-sex oriented people, it undergoes intense scrutiny and a lengthy, controversial debate.

There has been remarkable progress on the political front, but the slow pace of change is frustrating. We are moving away from heterosexist language, and replacing derogatory terms with respectable and more inclusive vocabulary. Our social values have changed, but the law lags behind.

Like a lot of people at Queen’s, I have male friends who are gay. While politicians argue over semantics, my friends and I both are searching for a good guy. But because of traditional definitions of marriage and because of government policies, I can marry my dream guy while my gay friends legally cannot.

And so together we march.

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Amma Bonsu is a peer advisor at The Ban Righ Centre, a queer-positive environment. She likes flamboyant colours.

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