June is LGBTQ Pride Month. For many people in our city, it is a time for celebration and showing pride in who they are.

The Edmonton Pride Festival has become one of the largest festivals in Edmonton, drawing nearly 40,000 people to the parade alone. Edmonton’s Pride Festival, June 3 to 12, is officially endorsed by the city and attended by both the mayor and premier. Last year, even the future Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marched in the parade.

I have been thinking lately about how lucky I am to live in this day and age. This past winter, my partner and I did a segment on CTV News about our Christmas lights and how we use them to connect with the community. It was not all that long ago we would have never seen a story like ours air on the six o’clock news. A gay couple connecting a neighbourhood would be unheard of in the media.

My partner and I bought a house in Parkdale three years ago. Our house was built in 1912, which was a very different time. In those days, there was no pride parades or celebrations of diversity. People who identified as LGBTQ would have lived closeted lives or would have been shunned by society. My partner and I would’ve had to live our lives in secret. If we would’ve lived together back in 1912, people would have referred to us as roommates or some other colourful term. The fact that we were lovers would have been a taboo subject.

However, society has changed immensely since our house was built. Now over 100 years later, it almost seems normal for a couple like us to be living in the community. Really, not many people even bat an eye. Our neighbours want to be our friends. They are curious and want to be part of breaking down those barriers; they want to be part of a more inclusive community.

I’m so happy and proud to be part of such an amazing diverse community of caring people. Sometimes we need to take a moment and really appreciate how lucky we are to be living in the time that we are now. It’s important to appreciate those who came before us because they are the people who forged a new path.

But it’s also important to realize that sometimes it’s our turn to step up and break down walls. We can’t become complacent. The more we strive to change outdated, false, or discriminatory perceptions, the more inclusive our society will become.

Pssst! The Pride Festival is on from June 3 – 12! Learn more at Edmontonpride.ca

Header Image: Writer Steven Townsend (left) and his partner Kevin (right) brought their community together at Christmas. Credit: Steven Townsend