By Rich Sutton
The week of October 18th was UCC’s 3rd annual Pride Week. Pride is an important time for the LGBTQ+ community, as it is a time for us to come together and celebrate how far we’ve come but also to look toward the future and reflect on the past. For decades, we have been criminalized, demonized and persecuted and we continue to be. For queer people of colour especially, the world is far too often a categorically unsafe place to live. Pride, which ordinarily falls in June, is held at UCC in October, during LGBTQ+ history month; it is not just the block party it is made out to be. It is a way for us to show solidarity for those who cannot live freely, for those who live in unsafe homes, and for those without any support structures of any kind across the globe.
The Stonewall Riots mark what is often considered the beginning of the “gay liberation movement,” which spawned the first pride demonstration and marches in the 1970s. The existence of pride demonstrations in our cultural consciousness, now as fulsome celebrations of the queer community, represent how far we have come. However, I think it is important to remember that they began as riots and marches in the interest of liberation and the end of persecution and should continue to be seen as such. Pride Marches and Parades are sometimes the first places that young queer people, or queer people of any age, can truly feel like themselves in a public space. I know that is certainly my own and many of my peers’ experience of them, but they also represent, at their core, the continuation of our fight for liberation. Across the world, oppressive policy continues to target LGBTQ+ people, but we are not going to back down and stop fighting any time soon. To me, the endearing nature of pride represents this unwavering fight.
Upper Canada College, as an institution hosting and bolstering pride and pluralism as it does, I consider to be a considerable strength. Though the process has been difficult at times, that is nothing new to myself or anyone else in the community. The support shown from faculty certainly does not go unnoticed to me, either. To every teacher who wears a pride tie around school to show their support, we, the GSA, sincerely appreciate you. Any and all students and teachers who have reached out to me and other members of the GSA to express their support, your support means the world to us. To the GSA themselves, you are all my rock and you are invaluable to this school and to its community. I know you will all go on to do great things.