Justin Trudeau will be the first Prime Minister to march in Toronto’s Pride parade
By Max MacDonald
If there isn’t enough excitement that Pride 2016 will have Michelle DuBarry, the Guinness World Record Holder World’s Oldest Performing Drag Queen; George Takei talking at Ryerson during Pride; and extraordinary drag artist Kim Chi performing … the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau will be walking in the Pride route. How’s that for fabulous? Though Trudeau has been a regular fixture at many past parades at an MP, he will strut into history as the first prime minister to walk in the parade. Yes, it’s a significant moment, but lest we forget, he’s not the first politician to do so.
In March 1988, MP Sven Robinson came out at a time when homosexuality was barely acceptable. You have to remember that in 1988, the Pride Toronto parade was not allowed to go past Church and Carlton. That June, Robinson led the parade, garnering much media attention, criticism and homophobia. His groundbreaking actions enabled other provincial and federal officials to join the parade.
After that, the likes of Toronto mayors from Mel Lastman to David Miller waved and squirted water guns; Miller even posed on the cover of FAB Magazine in leather. People such as MPs Bill Graham, the late Jack Layton and his wife Olivia Chow; and city councillors Kyle Rae and Kristyn Wong-Tam loved the cheers and jeers of the barricaded crowds on Yonge Street. However, no one dreamt of a prime minister, whether sitting or retired, to acknowledge gay pride. Then along came the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien.
Chrétien believed gay pride was something to be celebrated, and he continually wrote letters of support for various parades across Canada. Up to this point, no other sitting prime minister had ever done that much, let alone wanted to be affiliated with an event considered the symbol of gay rights acceptance. His work set a solid foundation for Trudeau’s historic appearance this July as prime minister.
With Trudeau’s (or any high-profile politician’s) appearance come the naysayers wondering, “What’s in it for him?” The simple answer: nothing but fun. Let’s keep in mind; this is not his first time at the Pride rodeo. He selflessly became a major fixture at the parade last year. He wasn’t just shaking hands and kissing drag queens; I’ve personally seen him stop for photos with members of groups from TICOT to Spearhead. Oh, and if you come at him with a Super Soaker, you’d better be prepared because he’ll probably have one too and will definitely shoot back. If that isn’t enough to win you over, look at his track record.
Trudeau’s rainmaking abilities have been unstoppable. He’s garnered major applause for having the first gender-balanced cabinet in Canadian history, swooned the fashion pack with a spread in Vogue, and opened Canadian doors to gay Syrian refugees. Trudeau has a straightforwardness as prime minister that has been compared to the likes of his late father and Obama. That’s not a bad way to start.
Of course, Trudeau won’t be flying solo. Other politicians will be attending Toronto Pride, including Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, federal Finance Minister Bill Moreau and Toronto’s Mayor John Tory, to name a few. If you have any doubts about Trudeau’s motives, consider this. Trudeau is the first prime minister in Canadian history to actively attempt to heal years of political bullying between the Prime Minister’s Office and Canada’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans community. So if you see him walk by at the parade, give him a hug and ask for a selfie. Where other politicians might say no, he always says, “Sure!”
MAX MACDONALD is a media, PR, menswear and creative influencer who brings cool ideas to life. You can follow him on Instagram at @andthentheresmax and Tumblr at andthentheresmax.tumbr.com.