Red shiny strands of synthetic hair were plastered across my face causing me to spit and sputter as I irritably pulled one strand from my lips. My shoulder-length wig was in my face for the thousandth time, reminding me why I don’t have long hair anymore. On the upside, the reason I was eating my wig was because I was grinning and laughing. I had on a set of rainbow leggings and was flaunting a lovely rainbow scarf hand-knit by my grandma. The display of rainbow colours was in support of my friends and others looking to be accepted in society. I was at the second Thompson Rivers University Pride Parade, an event created to show support for the Kamloops Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.
Now while this is technically not an ethnic cultural event it is definitely something known and considered all around the world so I thought it would be appropriate. It’s particularly appropriate right now because of the uproar in the United States of America as the American Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (Doma). Doma is a law that defines marriages as between a man and woman. Enacted in 1996 by Bill Clinton, it restricts federal marriage benefits and inter-state marriage recognition to only heterosexual marriages. If all goes according to the plans of supporters of gay marriage then the court will erase bans on same-sex marriages across America.
I found an interactive map by CBC news displaying the countries where same-sex marriage is legal so you can get an idea about its acceptance around the world. Of course this interactive map only shows the legal side of acceptance. There are thousands of protests and movements hoping to change the laws of countries that do not accept same-sex marriage. Some big ones in the news this year included Russia, China and France. So just because the government does not accept same sex marriage does not mean a large number of the people agree. Then again there will always be people who do not accept marriage between people of the same sex.
Here in Kamloops, Canada the city is taking strides to make Kamloops safer for the LGBT community but I still know people who are uncomfortable with showing their sexual preference.
The TRU Pride Parade is only in its second year, while the nearby city Vancouver has been hosting Pride Parades since 1978. Given that Vancouver makes Kamloops look like a speck it’s understandable that Kamloops began hosting Pride Parades later, but the gap in time is, in my opinion, odd. Especially with its active TRU LGBT campus community.
The parade saw the participation of around 300 people its first year, many from out of town, and the local media swarmed over the event its first and second year.
This year there was of course celebration over the newly created LGBT representative position in the TRU students’ union. Hailed as an important step towards promoting safe spaces and the acceptance of LGBT lifestyles, the position will provide a voice for the LGBT minority on campus alongside a Women’s Representative, International Students’ Representative, Aboriginal Representative and Graduate Students’ Representative.
In all the pride parade was a blast and you can participate if you are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, bicurious, transgendered, or other. There are tons of amazing welcoming people, a rainbow of colours and so many fun outfits. And, I mean, where else can you get a snow cone made with shaved ice and flavoured lube?