Here’s how thousands of Calgarians celebrated the return of the Pride Parade in person

Rainbow flags, dancers, drag queens and trailblazers filled the streets of downtown Calgary on Sunday as the annual Pride Parade made its much-anticipated in-person return.

Thousands of people – both allies and community members – gathered to celebrate the movement, the achievements and mark the end of a two-year absence from in-person gatherings.

« It means a lot. I mean, we saw people passing by and it’s nice to see their faces, and that’s what it’s about. We kind of experience each other’s humanity together by nobody, » said Zac Rempel, communications coordinator with Calgary Pride.

« It’s something we haven’t had for the past few years. And just seeing people’s faces, seeing the kids, it makes me smile. »

Even though events have taken place virtually over the past two years, Rempel said it doesn’t reflect the spirit of the community.

Celebrate freely

Sunday’s events were the first since the pandemic for some. For others, it was the first time they could freely celebrate their sexuality.

The marshals for this year’s event were refugees and newcomers from several countries including, among others, Nigeria and Afghanistan.

The theme of this year’s event centered on shelters and newcomers. The parade marshals were all refugees or new arrivals. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Ken is one of the marshals. He identifies as a queer person; he came to Canada from Nigeria a little over a month ago.

CBC News does not use his real name for fear of repercussions in his home country.

« Nigeria is a country that has zero tolerance for LGBTQ people, » he said. the Calgary Eyeopener September 1.

« We have policies against LGBTQ people, like the law against same-sex marriage. »

Ken noted that if a queer or queer person is caught, they can be jailed for up to 14 years.

He said it is unthinkable that a parade could even take place in this country.

From protest to pride

Pride began as a protest when a group of gay people rioted against police harassment at a bar in New York’s Greenwich Village.

Every year since then, celebrations have been held to commemorate the uprising.

But in the North American context, pride has turned more to celebration than protest, according to Calgary Pride’s Brit Nickerson.

For her, having refugees and newcomers at the forefront of this year’s event is a nod to both the historical origins and the current diversity of the movement.

« Having our community out there and being so visible and celebrating and creating space for affirmation is really important, » Nickerson said. « They truly represent the courage and resilience of the Pride movement.

“We are really delighted to welcome the refugees as parade marshals.”

LISTEN | Two of Calgary’s Pride Parade marshals, who have called Canada home after facing persecution where they are from, spoke with the Calgary Eyeopener about their experience:

8:52Pride Parade Marshals

We hear from two of Calgary’s Pride Parade Marshals, who have made Canada their home after facing persecution where they are from.


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