I used to be gay. At least that’s what many of the people I worked with in Edmonton during the 1970s thought. Their speculation on my sexual preference was based on some rather superficial analysis.
I wore fashion-forward clothing. I colour co-ordinated my wardrobe. I carried a shoulder bag. And I was known to have done some acting. What else could I be but gay for heaven’s sake?
I am pleased to say that, for the most part, that kind of stereotyping has disappeared. Those of us who do not breathe through our mouths, or drag our knuckles when we walk, know that one’s sexual preference tells us very little about a person other than who he or she is sexually interested in. The variations within the LGBT community mirror those in the heterosexual community. Time has taught us that we are more alike than we are different.
As Edmonton winds up its Pride Week events, other cities are getting ready to start theirs. Though our Pride parade is much smaller than Toronto’s, it has grown steadily during the last few years.
As an indication of how things have changed, this year the parade included representatives from the provincial government. That, in and of itself, shows how successful the LGBT community has been in gaining acceptance as a fundamental part of our city.
This city has changed a lot. In the ’70s, I didn’t ever think that I would see the mayor in a Gay Pride Parade, that members of the police force would face off against members from the LGBT community in a softball game, or that all and sundry would be invited to Pride events. But the greatest indication of how much things have changed can be seen in the sponsorship of Pride events.
TD Canada Trust is a major sponsor. Banks have never been big risk takers when it comes to their reputations. When a bank feels comfortable publicly acknowledging that the LGBT community is worthy of its support, then you really know things have changed — and, in this case, for the better.