This Friday, June 28th, marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riot in New York. This unprecedented battle outside a gay bar between queer people and the police triggered the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement in the USA and, ultimately, the world. It led us to where we are today!
Here in Canada, this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 decriminalization of homosexuality. This was the necessary first victory in our long fight for equality in our own country. Although plenty of persecution remained to be overcome, this milestone is worthy of commemoration because "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." The Royal Canadian Mint has issued a $1 coin celebrating LGBTQ+ equality which features artwork by the gay Vancouver artist, Joe Average.
And lastly, June 2019 marks a personal Pride milestone as well. Thirty years ago in 1989 in Winnipeg, I walked in my very first Pride March. There were only about 300 of us who walked on that day -- such a contrast to the huge Pride Parades and Festivals of today! It pissed rain the entire way from Vimy Ridge Park down Broadway Avenue to the Manitoba Legislature (the original parade route in the early years of the Winnipeg march). People yelled abuse at us from their balconies as we went by and drivers waiting in their cars flipped us the bird.
Since then, I've walked in a lot of bigger and better Pride Marches, but there's always something special about your very first time, isn't there!
[Watercolour painting entitled "Rainy Day Blues" by artist Debra Halprin]