In the middle of Pride Week, en route to Canada Day, it’s possible to conflate Pride and patriotism.

To the south, the Obama administration has extended benefits to same-sex couples working for the federal government — except, presumably, in the military, where the old “don’t ask don’t tell” policy is still in place.

Members of the Canadian Forces participated in Toronto’s Pride Parade for the first time last year.

Of course, this year, you can bet Prime Minister Stephen Harper will uphold the long-established prime ministerial tradition of skipping the parade.

Paul Martin once begged off citing a “scheduling conflict.”

No other PM has even bothered to make an excuse.

There is still much to celebrate here, where same-sex marriage was legalized four years ago now, putting the activist group Canadians for Equal Marriage out of business.

A lot of things have changed. Me, for example.

I went to high school in a small town in the 1980s. There were no openly gay kids. We’d never heard the word homophobia, and we knew a lot of gay jokes, but no gay people.

Except Mr. G, the math teacher, who you might expect to be in for a world of mockery from his spotty and unevolved charges, at least behind his back. But he wasn’t. Whip-smart, funny and patient, he was a student favourite.

Small place that it was, my dad had taught Mr. G math, and remembered him as a struggling student.

Maybe knowing what it felt like not to have the answer was what made him such an exceptional teacher, which he undoubtedly was.

He also bonded with some students over a mutual love of heavy metal, which we, for some reason, thought was very straight music indeed. (The possibility incredibly never crossed our minds that Rob Halford, the singer of Judas Priest, who performed in Pride-issue biker leathers, was gay.)

The headbangers would vacate the smoking area and pile into a classroom after school for sessions of what was known as the “Cultural Society,” Mr. G’s regular screenings of metal videos on the school’s AV equipment.

When I talk to some of the guys from school today, it’s noticeable how much their attitudes have mellowed towards same-sex marriage, and gays and lesbians in general. Some of this can be attributed to changing times, and some to the shocking onset of adulthood, but I think it all started with Mr. G, teacher — rocker, and all ‘round great gay dude.

So, happy Pride Week, Mr. G, though I still stink at math.

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