Toddish McWong in Vancouver's Pride Parade
Toddish McWong finds a fellow kilt wearer at the Vancouver Pride Parade – photo E. Harris/T. Wong collection
I had never ever before attended Vancouver's Pride Parade, let alone actually be in the parade.
But I admit… I'd thought about it before.
Each year Vancouver Library Workers union CUPE 391 participates in the Pride parade. This year, I thought it would be good to go out and join fellow co-workers – especially during the strike.
While I am straight… I have supported Gay-Lesbian issues on a number of community fronts, especially in my past roles with student newspapers, when I once was a regional human rights coordinator for Western Region, Canadian University Press.
It was good fun walking with fellow Vancouver library workers, some I have known for years and years, and some whom I met brand new. One librarian had only worked four shifts with VPL, before we went on strike, and yet she still came out to join the CUPE 391 delegation for the Pride Parade.
We met on Robson Street, with other CUPE locals and other unions. Our parade number was 31, just behind the official City of Vancouver delegation with the mayor and other city councillors at number 27.
While past library participants had created the now legendary “book buggy brigade” in which they took book trucks and wheeled them in formations similar to the RCMP musical ride… we simply walked along with the group flow. Ross danced along waving the CUPE BC flag. Electra held out bubbles for children to blow. It was a parade. It was a happy time. And it was good to be able to participate.
Afterwards, somebody asked me if I was afraid that people who saw me in the parade might think that I was gay. I said I wasn't. The parade is about celebrating diversity… well more sexual diversity rather than ethnic or cultural diversity. But is still about diversity, human rights and respect.
Maybe next year will see an official Gung Haggis Fat Choy parade entry. I have put a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat float in the first three years of Vancouver's St. Patrick's parade, since the Celtic Fest Vancouver people originally asked me to be involved as a way of helping the parade be multicultural. Hmmm… a dragon boat float in the Pride parade? Since 1997, I have coached gay paddlers and lesbian paddlers on my teams. Do you think Vancouver is ready to handle a parade entry full of “Dragon Boat Queens?”