Thousands came out to watch and take part in Calgary’s Pride Parade on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018.
The New Democratic Party is set to meet with Calgary Pride on Monday in hopes of reversing their decision to ban political parties from participating in this year’s parade.Calgary Pride said including only one political party in the yearly celebration, regardless of their support for LGBTQ rights, would unfairly perceive other parties as against the LGBTQ community and exclude community members whose political allegiance lies elsewhere.Edmonton New Democratic MLA Janis Irwin said she was shocked by the decision.“I can’t reconcile in my mind why our party would be denied that opportunity,” said Irwin.“We have a clear record, an undeniably positive record, both through our own activism and through legislation when we were in government. It’s really hard to argue with the work we did to support and advance rights of the LGBTQ2S+ community.”There has also been online backlash calling on Calgary Pride to allow NDP leader Rachel Notley to march in the upcoming September parade.The hashtag #RachelMustMarch circulated on Twitter with people criticizing the decision and sharing Notley’s positive track record and impact on LGBTQ youth and legislation. It was tweeted 461 times in the past 24 hours as of Thursday afternoon.LGBTQ advocate Mike Morrison tweeted, “Rachel Notley is the most supportive Premier in Canadian history. If she’s not allowed to march in Calgary Pride, (then) it’s an insult to what Pride marches are all about. Pride says they are listening, so I’m shouting #RachelMustMarch.”Another user wrote, “I think it’s important for Calgary’s LGBTQ youth to see a positive example of a socially progressive politician who is on their side. Politics doesn’t have to be scary — it should be accessible and engaging. #RachelMustMarch”Irwin said it shows a lot of people are disappointed by the decision.
Premier Rachel Notley takes part in the 2018 Pride Parade in downtown Calgary on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018.
In a Calgary Pride press release, it explained the organization engages a blind jury, which consists of individual community members with a range of lived experiences across the LGBTQ spectrum, to score each application they receive.Based on those scores, the NDP would have been the only party approved to march in the parade, but ultimately were disallowed.“The Calgary Pride Board stands behind the decision to (not) allow any political parties to march in the Calgary Pride Parade. Calgary Pride also recognizes the countless hours of LGBTQ2S+ advocacy done by our political allies,” the statement read, and went on to acknowledge the 40-plus hours of filibustering by the NDP to protect LGBTQ youth.Calgary Pride did not respond to request for comment.Irwin said Pride marches are inherently political and the reason LGBTQ rights have progressed is because of the work of many who put themselves, and sometimes their lives, at risk to support the Pride movement.A meeting between the NDP and Calgary Pride is scheduled for early next week.“It’s one thing to have a conversation play out on social media but I really want to come from a place of understanding because there hasn’t been that clarity in how they came to the decision,” said Irwin.“As the only openly gay member of the Alberta legislature, it’s really important to me, as well, that we are represented and that we have an opportunity to celebrate the work that’s been done.”The United Conservative Party did not respond to request for comment.— With files from Brodie Thomas firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @alanna_smithh