Justin Trudeau made history yesterday by becoming the first Canadian Prime Minister to march in a pride parade.
The Toronto pride parade was not only the venue of colorful enjoyment and vivid celebrations, but also that of historical significance — this is the first time a head of state in Canada has marched in support of the LGBTQ community.
In a march that was laden with memories of the brutal killings at the LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Justin Trudeau stood out as a vocal campaigner for equality.
His presence in the country’s oldest pride march could be the beginning of a worldwide recognition of the need for governments to support the rights of gay and transgender people.
While Trudeau has earlier marched in pride parades, this is the first time he walked with the rainbow flag as Prime Minister.
As reported by the Canadian Huffington Post, several other politicians marched in Toronto, along with PM Justin Trudeau.
The list included Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Toronto’s Mayor John Tory, Green Party leader Elizabeth May and Rona Ambrose, interim leader of the federal Conservatives.
On June 1, 2016, Trudeau launched Canada’s first Pride Month. Featuring extended programming beginning with the raising of the Pride Flag at Queens Park, Toronto, followed by events and marches throughout the city, the month of awareness and celebration of equality culminated with the 35-year-old annual Pride Parade.
Justin Trudeau also participated in a moment-long silent remembrance of the victims of the Orlando shootout — most of whom where members of the LGBTQ community.
Dressed in robes of rainbow colors, parade participants from Grand Marshall Salah Bachir’s float held up the the names of the Orlando victims on white boards, along with the frightening reminder of how old they were when they died.
Justin Trudeau spoke with the Canadian news channel C24 and was quoted by Mashable.
Trudeau not only played down the historic significance of his role in the march, but also took the opportunity to make announcements about facilitating transgender-inclusive identification cards in Ontario.
“I’ve been coming to this for years and it’s sort of frustrating that it has to be a big thing. It shouldn’t be a big thing that the prime minister is walking in the Pride Parade and from now on, it won’t.”
Amidst all the revelry was yet another heartening sight — that of gay Syrian refugee Bassel Mcleash walking alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
CBC News reports that for the 29-year-old HIV positive refugee who could not find work in Egypt because of his condition, the journey from Damascus to Toronto has been quite a long one.
“To be honest, I’m totally speechless. The excitement and the emotion that’s happening, it’s overwhelming. It’s too much to handle.”
This years pride was halted for 30 minutes by members of the Black Lives Matter group.
The Star reports that the float of the group held up the march until organizers agreed to remove police floats in future parades, and increase funding and support for Black Queer Youth events, among other specific and valid demands.
Alexandria Williams, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, raised the issue of blindness towards black people in pride marches.
“Folks are forgetting that we haven’t all made it to the point of queer liberation. That not all communities who participate in Pride are actually able to be free in that celebration.”
But here’s another piece of livening information — right before the beginning of the march in which he was to create history, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended a special church service in the heart of the city’s gay village, where he sang along to Lady Gaga’s song, Born This Way.
[Photo by Ian Willms/Getty Images]