Time to celebrate: Young LGBTQ people talk Halifax Pride as event takes centre stage
Three Halifax residents weigh in on what Pride means to them, and issues facing them.
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Young LGBTQ people in Halifax say more needs to be done around transphobia, stereotyping, and inclusion - but right now the power of celebration is up front.
The 29th annual Halifax Pride kicks off Thursday and runs until July 24 with dozens of events celebrating gay, lesbian, trans, bi-sexual, and all queer or gender non-conforming folks with dances, panel discussions, a block party, and the annual Pride Parade.
“Pride means a lot to me. It’s not just being able to tell someone you’re gay and not get beat up. I’m from Cuba, coming out there is very challenging - you just don’t come out,” Marcos Mena Cruz, 17, said in an interview Wednesday atop Citadel Hill with other young people participating in Pride.
“But here, the fact that you can just walk down the street wearing a Halifax Pride shirt, that is a strong movement. It’s powerful to think about it that way.”
Al Cusack, 20, hails from the Annapolis Valley and said last year they were moved to tears dancing in the parade with the Youth Project (a non-profit supporting LGBTQ young people) to see the huge crowd cheering them on - which doesn’t happen any other time of year.
There are still issues to focus on, including the right to use gender-neutral washrooms or dealing with transphobia when heading into a job interview, Cusack said, but seeing those cheers for kids simply dancing in the street is a “beautiful thing.”
“The celebration is so important for giving us energy to go forward with the fights that still need to be fought,” Cusack said.
“We can fight, but we don’t have to fight right now.”
Frances Dadin-Alli, 25, recently graduated from Dalhousie University, and has been in Canada for the past six years since leaving Nigeria.
When she came out three years ago, Dadin-Alli said she was nervous at first about where she would fit into the LGBTQ community but is now excited to attend Pride “with an open mind” and celebrate herself and other people.
It’s been especially helpful to find people in smaller groups like an LGBTQ people of colour and indigenous Facebook group, Dadin-Alli said.
“Different people coming together, you share your own story and it just gives some people an extra help in moving forward. It’s been good for me.”
'Hiding is the exact opposite of what we should do:' Pride after Orlando
The recent shooting in an Orlando gay club was “devastating” to Marcos Mena Cruz but he said it can’t impact how Haligonians celebrate this week.
Mena Cruz said after doing research on the shooter, he feels the attack was mostly motivated out of jealousy as he also might have been gay, and no matter where you go there will always be “sick people, there’s no other word for it.”
Although Mena Cruz said he was shocked by the violence, what he especially couldn’t believe was the reaction some people online had - for every positive and supportive comment there was another “sickening” one applauding the shooter.
Slightly differently, Al Cusack said they feel the attack was still on the LGBTQ community in a place they felt safe, and it shook them to think it could easily happen in Canada. However, they still decided to go to Menz & Mollyz bar for their birthday recently.
“To respond by going into hiding is the exact opposite of what we should do.”