Established in 1996, the Toronto Pride and Remembrance run is a live memorial to founder Alan Belaiche’s late friend Richard Robert-Leroux who had died from AIDs the previous year. Now on its 26th anniversary, the run serves as a massive symbol for many members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, including myself.
As a GenZ member of the 2SLGBQ+ community, I am incredibly fortunate to live in a country where my forefathers have fought for and achieved equal rights in many facets. I was born in the year 2000. By the time I figured I was bisexual in 2016, I already had friends who were part of the community. I had just witnessed the US Supreme Court legalize marriage equality across the United States. The Pride and Remembrance run serves as a reminder that without those who protested against oppressive laws or the queer people who faced violence from the police force, I would not be able to be “out and proud” the way I am today. I owe it to the “We Demand” protestors of 1971, the New Brunswick Four, the victims of the Operation Soap Raids and more for my ability to publicly broadcast my sexual orientation online and in school. These people led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2005 and are why my friends can proudly introduce their same-sex partners in public.
Of course, we must remember that the fight is not over. Despite our “equal rights” and general acceptance, there are still disparities that need to be addressed. Transgender people still have 2x higher mortality rates than cis people. In the past year, 375 trans people have been murdered in the United States. Here in Canada, Blood Canada announced that they would overturn the 2-month donation ban for men who have sex with men when they reworded their policies to exclude anyone who has had anal sex in the past three months. While the wording may seem more inclusive, it still disproportionately affects queer men who have sex with other men.
Our general public is still very uninformed about 2SLGBTQ+ issues. For example, in 2017, 53% of Canadians said they would not eat a meal prepared by someone they knew was HIV positive. As our issues are discussed in a public setting, we need to disseminate accurate information to help dispel the misconceptions spread by Facebook conspiracy theories and misguided commentators.
There are still so many things that need to be addressed before our community can achieve acceptance and equality in society. Raising awareness of our community’s issues through the Pride and Remembrance Run is only a tiny piece of what I can do, and I aim to do more grassroots work in the future. Nevertheless, I am proud to be a Pride and Remembrance Ambassador this year, and I can’t wait to see what our fundraising can do to help our beneficiaries.
To fundraise for the cause, please click here.