Recently I attended my first Pride March in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. This is the first time I have ever seen or took part in a pride celebration.
I want you to know I come from Zimbabwe, Africa, where any sense to hold a pride walk could attract extreme penalties for both participants and organizers. So, my first pride here, “The Capital Pride” was a joy to behold.
I was excited, yes – but my ever faithful Canon camera refused to capture certain folks, whom I feel are both honorable and opportunistic. And they are:
Banks, Starbucks, trucking corporations, airlines, real estate’s giants – are all critical partners for any successful pride march to go ahead. Corporations provide funding, water bottles, branded condoms and sweets to illuminate crowds at any pride walk. For example, Gaingels, an investment group in Toronto, whose members invest their money in companies with admirable LGBT values, reportedly made its first deal in Canada this June. The firm ploughed $360,000 in Borrowell, a Toronto-based fintech company whose 50% of staff identifies as female and whose vice president is a member of the LGBT community. This is exemplary.
But here is the catch – my camera simply refused to capture that Pride moment when corporate giants (your Bank of Canada, Shopify, Starbucks etc.) strolled proudly with their display banner vehicles, staff proudly hoisting multi colored Pride flags and odd rugby balls. Corporations, however commendable, must not feature in my Pride “photographs of the day.” I and my camera simply refuse to give them the thumbs up and free publicity.
For a number of corporates, publicly honoring LGBTQA rights is simply a “box ticking exercise” to acquire glamourous social cred, argues Tris Reid-Smith, the co-founder of Gaystar News when he announced the closure of the iconic site. We have an interesting example here in Canada with a noble initiative by the Royal Canadian mint to introduce a new $1 coin with LGBT history insignia on it, which sharply divided the LGBT community and earned the displeasure of the usual conservatives.
So, yes to those Pride colored free condoms (Gosh, I pocketed dozens of those) but in my camera, no “fluffy happy Pride Day!” pictures of Starbucks executives walking along the march.
This brings me to the next culprits whom my camera rabidly refused even to record at the Ottawa Capital Pride March.
Our Canada jaunty political parties
All of Canada’s political parties annoyed me – their opportunistic takeover of pride to solicit votes was on full display. Party bangles, caps, even nail cutters branded with “Vote Me—happy Pride” left a stench in my mouth. If this was not election year, I would have no qualms with political parties holding stalls at the Pride march.
I was happy my camera battery died out for good and thus I could not capture any picture when a member of a political party (name withheld if they repent next time) squeezed themselves among an Amnesty International booth profiling detained LGBT Refugees in the US, to then solicit me – “Here is a needle clip of our parliament candidate…Fill your address and our party agents will call at your home…”
You must imagine how offensive that was to me; to be solicited for parliament votes in my first pride march.
How disappointed I was! Here they were – a usual troop – all of Canada’s jaunty political parties, grabbing the Pride March to be the venue of a “votes harvest” and campaign duels. For those not in the know – we are having our federal election in Canada this October. Our federal election is at the same stature as your 2020 presidential vote. I want you to know that, the man who leads the opposition conservatives and is ahead of everyone else in polls, and is the front runner to be elected prime minister of Canada – refuses to attend the pride walk.
That ́s a story pie for another day.
Cover Photo by Ray Mwareya