What a joy it is to see how far humanity has come when we witness a massive crowd turnout for Montreal’s annual LGBT parade, part of an 11-day Pride Festival.
It wasn’t that long ago that the 12,000 marchers might have felt compelled to anonymously occupy a very bulging closet.
Sunday’s parade along Rene Levesque Boulevard attracted an estimated 300,000 onlookers, with most welcoming the floats, marchers and shenanigans with great enthusiasm.
That’s 300,000 in a city with a population of about 1.8 million. (Not all in the parade or in the audience were Montrealers, of course.)
What has been characterized as only a tiny smattering of peaceful protests were seen along the 2.7-km route. That’s about 1.6 miles.
The satisfaction open-minded people see in this event derives from the belief that each human being is entitled to his or her way of life, so long as it doesn’t break any laws or harm others. Who is anyone to criticize someone else’s choice of something as personal as sex?
This year’s parade was more than just a celebration of sexual freedom. It marked the 50th anniversary of the LGBT social movement sparked by a New York City confrontation between police and patrons of a gay bar.
Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, attended the parade, as he always has since taking office. He and other officials marched along the parade route, shaking hands and waving to the parade participants and spectators. Trudeau told reporters: “Pride is about saying no to homophobia, no to transphobia and saying no to hatred in any form.”
And that is the message the entire world needs to hear these days in all areas of politics and culture.
People of all races, sexual inclinations, political preferences and nationalities must insist on embracing one another because we have much more in common than what stands between us.
We have come so far in this regard in so many areas, but we are reminded almost daily of how far we have yet to navigate.
Why must we have to intrude into other people’s existences to try to impose our own values. Why can we not respect other points of view?
Montreal’s LGBT celebration shines a bright, revealing light on the fact that a life that may not reflect our own is perfect for someone else and does nobody else harm.
As a matter of fact, the more outlandish the outfits of the drag queens in the parade, the more entertaining to those lining the street. They were overwhelmingly a source of fun, not scorn.
Numerous businesses sponsored floats and matching groups showing their support for LGBT rights.
The LGBT community may finally be reaching a place where one aspect of their lives doesn’t automatically spark undeserved derision from an intolerant majority.
Diversity must remain one of our most treasured goals.