On Ryerson’s campus, Monday, June 24, was the beginning of PRIDE week. Since the beginning of the week, many in the city of Toronto have been celebrating PRIDE with a host of activities. Today, Sunday, June 30, the week concludes with a PRIDE parade along Yonge Street. While walking south on Yonge Street yesterday, the atmosphere felt electric with great anticipation of the parade and festivities.
PRIDE flags were displayed in store windows, restaurants, banks, and other business establishments. At the intersection of Dundas and Yonge, which is the busiest corner in the entire country, there were so, so many people wearing PRIDE colors, PRIDE flags, and shirts with PRIDE messages. Even the street ministry speaking to Jesus saving souls had a multicolor display.
While in attendance at the Ryerson Student Union PRIDE barbeque this week, I learned something that was quite amazing to me. Not surprisingly, “PRIDE week is one of the premier arts and cultural festivals in Canada and one of the largest PRIDE celebrations in the world”.
World PRIDE will be in Toronto for 2014. A fact I already knew. But on that day, Wednesday, June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) “federal provision that denied benefits to married same-sex couples”.
What I learned was that Canada legalized same-sex marriage in 2005 and two years later the lesbian couple that was at the heart of the lawsuit against DOMA, got married in Toronto, Ontario. “Edie Windsor and the late Thea Spyer of New York, who after 40 years together came to Canada in 2007 when Dr. Spyer was dying from multiple sclerosis, …was married before Judge Harvey Brownstone of Toronto”. Ontario’s first openly gay Premier, Kathleen Wynne, along with others, celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the federal provision. Many Americans, including myself, proclaimed how proud they were to be an American.
It was so wonderful to learn of this Canadian-U.S. connection. We are connected in more ways than we realize. In Canada, Americans are considered “the neighbors to the south”. Yes, we are neighbors and it is good to know your neighbors. I must confess that prior to moving to Canada, I knew very little of Canada’s history, human rights laws, and customs. I would encourage Americans to learn more about their neighbors to the north. You never know when the Canadian example can be the nudge America needs.
Were you aware of this connection between DOMA and Toronto, Ontario? What are your thoughts?