It was a year in the making but OPSEU's participation at the 2014 World Pride Festival was nothing short of spectacular! Members of the Rainbow Alliance demonstrated extreme patience, long standing commitment and grace under pressure in ensuring that OPSEU's involvement during the ten day affair was as successful as it was.
The 2014 World Pride Festival was held from June 20-29, 2014 in downtown Toronto. It was an extremely exciting time because not only was it the fourth such festival in the world, it was also the first ever to be held in North America!
This year celebrated the 45th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. They marked the beginning of the gay liberation movement that transformed the suppression of the LGBT community into a movement of pride.
During the festival, OPSEU's Toronto Regional Office (at 31 Wellesley Street East) became "Labour House," the central hub for many labour-friendly activites such as:
- National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) hosted an evening caucus which welcomed delegates from across the country; and
- The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) hosted a Pride Reception with an International Labour Awards presented to Mariela Castro Espin. She is the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana and an activist for LGBT rights in Cuba.
Several community-based organizations also took up residence in Labour House for the week. Many of their exhibits promoted the hard work already done to bring greater awareness to issues that impact the LGBT community. For instance:
- The Ontario Rainbow Alliance for the Deaf (ORAD) hosted several activities: An International Meet & Greet, an Arts Showcase and an ongoing signing space for individuals who wanted to learn more about the beauty of communicating in sign language; and
- Queer Ontario hosted a panel discussion on the new sex worker laws in Ontario and their impact on queer and trans identified individuals.
In addition, other events that took place at Labour House and/or members of the Rainbow Alliance were involved in included:
- a short presentation about OPSEU and the work of the Rainbow Alliance at the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA) North American Regional Conference;
- the World Pride Human Rights Conference, a three day event that celebrated many achievements in the gay liberation movement. It also highlighted the ongoing struggles that continue to exist today. The discussions that participants took part in indicated a clear sign that more work needs to be done in breaking down the barriers that people continue to face because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression; and
- the launch of "Labour Pride: What Our Unions Have Done for Us," a documented account of working class gays and lesbians in the trade union movement. It was prepared by the World Pride Committee of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council. Click here for a copy labour_pride_2014.pdf
World Pride festivities culminated in the annual Trans March (June 27), the Dyke March (June 28) and the official Pride Parade (June 29). Alliance members, their many dedicated volunteers and allies proudly marched and danced to gay-themed music as OPSEU's float boisterously meandered its way along the parade route. In addition and in a sign of true solidarity, OPSEU's very own Workers of Colour Caucus (WOCC) hosted a Pride Breakfast and the Provincial Human Rights Committee (PHRC) hosted a post-Pride Parade BBQ.
Members of the Rainbow Alliance would like to thank all those who were involved with planning and those that participated in the scheduled events. Your continued presence, support and dedication throughout the 2014 World Pride Festival was not only appreciated but contributed greatly to its success!