The following is the speech I gave at the Glendon World Pride Opening Ceremony, that happened on June 24, 2014. Please enjoy!
“Merci à tous et à toutes qui sont venus aujourd’hui pour célébrer WorldPride 2014 à Glendon! Thank you to GLgbt*, TBLGAY and the Art Gallery at York and all the supporters of York At Pride for putting on this amazing series of events this week but also for asking me to speak – not that you could’ve kept me away. Je me sens tellement chanceux d’être un étudiant de Glendon, de vivre en Toronto et d’être citoyen de Canada cette semaine. In a city and country that is so multicultural and progressive, the feeling of being open, out and proud is an incredible one.
And I for one am so happy that World Pride is being celebrated here this year. I’m excited because I feel like between the amazing Human Rights Conference being held this week the incredible musical and theatrical performances, art exhibits and just the make up of the crowds that are attending these events is really showing the diversity of what it means to be queer. York @ Pride’s theme of “United, We Are Different” really rings true this year as we see the diversity in our community.
Growing up, I’m lucky to have seen the amount of queer representation in the media grow every day – I mean there was Will & Grace as I was growing up – having started to watch it recently, I love Jack and Will. And one of my favourite shows now is Modern Family – I bawled my eyes out during Mitch and Cam’s wedding. Then there’s my other favourite show Glee which has a slew of gay teens – Blaine, Kurt, Sebastian, Dave, Adam. Now all these characters are quite different – but one thing that’s similar about them is that they’re all white. And I’m… not.
In my life, I can think of three gay latino men in the public eye – Oscar Martinez from The Office who is often forgotten because he was not a main character, Ricky Martin who is a world famous superstar with a song on the World Cup album – I do NOT have a song on the World Cup album nor am I musically talented global icon so it can be difficult identifying with him at times.
And then there was Justin Suarez from Ugly Betty who’s story I was always drawn to but as a kid didn’t really know why and it was not until later, as I grew up, that I realized I was drawn to his storyline because I was preparing for what might be coming my way as I learned more about myself.
Queer representation in the media is getting a lot more diverse. I mentioned Glee before, and Santana Lopez, a latina lesbian on the show really touched my heart because it was one of the most honest portrayals of coming out I had seen on television.
Shows like How I Met Your Mother, Orange is the New Black, Pretty Little Liars and many others are featuring queer characters who are from different backgrounds and ethnicities, which means kids will grow up seeing more and more people who reflect who they are.
So that’s why I’m excited about World Pride. That’s why I’m honoured to be speaking here today and to identify as queer advocate. That’s why I am so open about my sexuality, and so proud of my heritage. That’s why I’m proud of the direction that queer organizations are going in. Because, while there’s nothing wrong with be a white gay man – there are tons of queer short stubby working three jobs just to get through school kids with disabilities who are wondering if they’re the only one. The word queer itself is an umbrella term, and I’m excited that people are taking note of how diverse being queer can be.
There are gay men who are great at sports like Jason Collins. Then there’s gay men like me who are not. There are gay men who have an impeccable eye for fashion, and then there’s gay men like me who are colour blind, and sometimes still sends pictures of my outfits to my mom to see if it matches. There are queer that are white, black, brown, asian, aboriginal, latino, arab, and if you look around this week, I’m sure you’ll find queer people who are pink, blue, purple and glitter coloured. Hay de personas homosexuales que hablan espanol, et il y a des gens homosexuels qui parlent français.
My call to action for everybody here today, is to be proud of who you are in all respects – Soyez fier de votre sexualité, votre identité de genre, de votre origine ethnique. Be proud of your career, your hobbies, your skills, your ability or disability. And if you ever need help or support with anything, know that there is a service out there for you no matter who you are.
So this World Pride and even after, be aware of how diverse the queer community can be and is. Know that people have more than one identity, and that affects how they experience things. This week, be safe and be smart but most of all – soyez fiers, be proud. I know I am. Thank you. ”
What does Pride mean to you? Are you celebrating Pride in your city this year? Share your experiences below!