It’s Pride Week in Ottawa and for the first time in forever I’m planning to be at the parade. I don’t like parades, because I don’t like crowds. But there are beautiful queer people in my life I love much more than I dislike crowds so yeah, I’m coming.
I was thinking about the evolution of pride over the decades. Back in my day, it was very much a gay men thing. I’m talking Quebec City in the early 1990s. Maybe it was different where you were, I don’t know.
What I do know is that nowadays the focus is shifting from sexual orientation to gender diversity. And that’s a beautiful thing because the rainbow, it turns out, is even bigger and more expansive than many of us thought.
I was thinking about all this while I was baking in the hot-hot sun earlier in the week. I was in Brampton for the Ultimate Canadian championships with one of my teenagers. And I was struck by how many rainbow and progress flags there were — including on some of the teams’ uniforms.
I’m a Gen Xer (and I’m pretty good at it, if I say so myself), and when I was growing up we had no words, concepts or understanding of gender diversity. Sure, you could be gay. Or bisexual. That was fine. Being trans was considered out there. Non-binary? We had no clue it existed. And yet it obviously did.
Gender diversity is as old as people. I always knew I didn’t fit in with girls. With women even less. I have always been more comfortable around guys, but I never felt like one of them either. I thought I was the one with the problem, and I spent much of my life hating myself for being so damn weird.
Fast forward a few decades and I can say I’m gender non-conforming and have maybe one-third of my readers understand what I mean. The other two-thirds are probably sympathetic but slightly confused — which is completely OK, by the way. Confused and lost are fine. Unaccepting isn’t.
I am so pleased by this long evolution because it means kids today who are gender diverse have a better chance than I ever had to believe they’re cool instead of deviant. As I wrote in this column, being accepted and loved for who you are is crucial.
Be you, wherever you fall on the rainbow. You are beautiful just the way you are.