Tens-of-thousands lined 9 Avenue in the Downtown Core on Sunday, September 4 to celebrate Calgary Pride.
The event was the culmination of a week of Pride events that re-affirmed and celebrated Calgary’s LGBTQ+ community.
Speaking on the main-stage at Fort Calgary post parade, Mayor Jyoti Gondek thanked Calgarians for attending Pride.
“We care about each other and I want to thank you for projecting that today,” she said.
“There’s a lot of people that will say a lot of things that are kind of stereotypical and negative about our city, and negative about our province, but all of you are proof that we are bigger and better than that… it doesn’t matter who you love because, we love you for who you are.
“So thank you for making the city as incredible as I keep saying it is.”
Mayor Gondek said that all Calgarians, including herself, had connections to Pride.
“We all have people who we love that need us to support them and show some ally-ship, and I’m happy to do that every single day,” the mayor said.
Among the council attendees for the 2022 parade were, in addition to Gondek, Councillors Jasmine Mian, Jennifer Wyness, Courtney Walcott, Richard Pootmans, Evan Spencer, Kourtney Penner, and Terry Wong.
“I would imagine that all of council would have been here had they been in town,” said Mayor Gondek.
“I know that there’s a couple of my colleagues are incredibly disappointed that they couldn’t join in.”
Helping to end un-ease for LGBTQ+ Calgarians
Coun. Wong said that it was important for him to attend as part of Calgary city council representing Ward 7, but also in support for members of his own family that were marching in other parts of the parade.
“You know, it means a lot to us because in the Asian community there’s a bit of a sheltering a bit of unease are coming out,” Wong said.
“And this is something that we want to celebrate with them to say, ‘hey, you know, you’re a part of the Calgary just as much as everybody else is.'”
Coun. Wong said that he wanted Calgarians to know that no matter what their issues are, that he was able to be visible as supporting their communities.
“The most important thing for me is making sure that they understand that I understand whatever the issue is, trials, tribulations with and for that matter, all the possible celebrations, that I’m here,” he said.
“I want them to hear that I am definitely supportive of all of our inclusive communities, as well as our cultural communities.”
Pride more important than ever
Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin, self-described “ML Gay” and the only openly gay legislator in the province, attended Pride with her Alberta NDP colleagues.
She said attending was more important than ever.
“I think all of us have seen that there’s been a rise in hate, and particularly transphobia,” she said.
“For me, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Irwin took aim at UCP leadership candidate and potential Premier of Alberta, Brian Jean, over an email he sent to supporters that some advocates believe was transphobic. Jean argued that sport in the province should be segregated based on biological sex.
“It’s not lost on me that it was just a couple of days ago that one of the people who wants to be the leader of the UCP is openly spouting transphobic views,” she said.
“That’s what we’re up against, and I truly believe that that’s not Alberta.”
Irwin pointed to the tens-of-thousands of people that had gathered at Fort Calgary post parade, and to the well over 100,000 people who lined 9 Avenue as a symbol for what the province believes in.
“This is Calgary—Calgary is open and inclusive, and I think they’re gonna reject that kind of hate.”
She said that the message was beyond politics, and all about rooting out hate and bigotry.
“We’re not going to stop speaking out, marching, and proudly talking about the importance of pride until every every person who’s a member of the LGBTQ+ community can walk freely and can feel safe—until every kid can be safe in schools,” Irwin said.
The post-parade gathering at Fort Calgary did see a solitary protester who made the claim that Christians could not support LBGTQ+ members. He shouted that and other messages against the community over a speaker system. The man was largely drowned out by chants of “shut up” from the crowd.
Multiple religious communities had a presence at the parade this year, both as marchers and as attendees. Members of the Presbyterian faith set up by Platform Calgary, supporting the marchers. Members of Calgary’s Jewish community also marched in the parade.