A wave of colours flooded the streets of downtown London, Ont., Sunday for the city’s 27th annual Pride Parade.
This year’s event saw thousands of people gather as the parade marched west on Queens Avenue and ultimately ended at Victoria Park.
Kyna Patterson marched in the parade with her wife and their two-year-old son.
“We’re here because representation is important and community is important, and so, we want to be a part of it,” she said.
Patterson told 980 CFPL she hopes bringing her son to the parade will help him feel more connected to the community.
“I want him to know that the love he has grown up with and will grow up with is just as valid as anyone else’s,” she said.
Another mom, Hailey Teatro, attended the parade with her four young children, all dressed up in rainbow colours.
She told 980 CFPL the parade is a way for them to support members of the LGBTQ+ community while enjoying music and dress-up.
“It’s so much fun and so colourful,” she smiled.
By attending the parade, Teatro says she hopes her kids will grow up in a world that’s more “safe and accepting.”
Drag queen Nicki Nastasia shares the same hope.
“I grew up with only seeing queer people portrayed in a negative way,” she told 980 CFPL after the parade. “I hope that I can be a visibly open and out queer…. I hope that I can be what I never had.”
Nastasia says the Pride Parade is an important part of showing representation in the city.
“I definitely think that now, with the rise of queerphobia and transphobia in the political climate, I think it’s very important that we have this visibility,” she said. “Being right here in the heart of downtown London, we’re visibly queer and visibly open, and that’s really powerful.”
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London is no stranger to Pride-related protests.
Last month, an anti-drag storytime protest took place at the Wortley Pride festival.
The protesters had a sign that read, “Why do drag queens feel the need to perform in front of our children???” while counter-protesters were heard chanting, “trans rights are human rights.”
Last year, a London man was charged with causing a disturbance and possession of a weapon after disrupting a Pride event in Wortley Village.
Nastasia says she’s experienced harassment as a drag queen, such as receiving bomb threats at the venue where she performs.
“I feel like I should probably fear for my safety more, but I’ve become so numb to it. It just happens so often, (which) is kind of sad,” she said.
Two London police officers confirmed to 980 CFPL that there were no known threats or concerns at Sunday’s Pride Parade.
Pride London, the organizers of the parade, did not return 980 CFPL’s requests for comments.
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