Pride Month – Some Facts About Pride in Canada
On the occasion of Pride Month, we would like to take the time to highlight some interesting facts about the struggle led by activists from this community. Pride Month is now a celebration, but that does not mean the end of the struggle for LGBTQ2+ communities in society. For this reason, UCTE wants to remind you of events to keep in mind in the interest of understanding the importance of Pride Month.
- Riots or parades?
The parades we know today were not always of this nature. They began as riots and revolt, to promote and defend the rights of the LGBTQ2S+ community. In August of 1971, the first gay rights demonstrations in Ottawa and Vancouver demanded an end to all forms of state discrimination against gays and lesbians. In Winnipeg, some of the earliest participants in this event wore paper bags over their heads for fear of recognition while gathering in public. The event has since grown into a vibrant annual festival, and now provides an opportunity to remember a time when it was not possible to express oneself freely.
- Stonewall Riot
UCTE has already made some references to this event in The Marsha P. Johnson Story and in 3 Canadian LGBTQ2S+ Activists to Remember, specifically, the Sylvia Rivera Story. A date to remember is June 28, 1969. In New York City, a riot broke out at the Stonewall Inn, a community club in Manhattan. The demonstration was sparked by a police search of the club. This event lasted all night, continued for the rest of the week, and became a worldwide movement.
- Montreal and The Sex Garages After Party
Montreal’s Stonewall is July 15, 1990. During a police raid on The Sex Garages After Party, the LGBTQ2+ community revolted and for 36 hours police and protesters clashed violently. Following this event, the Sex Garage raid was the starting point for a movement of activists defending the rights of the LGBTQ2S+ community, especially in the political arena, leading to an improvement in the lives of this community in Montreal.
- Operation Soap in Toronto
In Toronto, large gatherings of the community took place in public baths, which led the police, on 5 February 1981, to storm four public baths and arrest 300 men. This raid, dubbed ‘Operation Soap’, was intended to punish members of the community. Most of the charges were later dropped or dismissed. It was after this event that people began to gather to denounce the injustice experienced by these men, giving birth to the Toronto Pride celebrations.
- The First Celebrations
In 1979, Montreal and Vancouver were the first Canadian cities to hold an official Pride march and festival to celebrate the many struggles of the LGBTQ2+ community and to remember the injustices they have faced over the years.
Pride Month is an opportunity to remember, but also to educate. It is important to remember the injustices communities around the world have faced in order that we understand the importance of today’s events.