Link to London Pride  2002


See Report on Sudbury Pride

See Report On Toronto

See Report on Vancouver Pride

See Report on Windsor Pride



To our surprise, we were the grand marshalls of the parade.  Here we see Joe (right) shaking hands with the driver before climbing aboard.  (Photo by, 2002)
We were honoured to be the Grand Marshalls of London's Pride Parade. We rode in the back of this convertable, sitting on top of the boot, waving to anything animate or inanimate. Joe is seen shaking hands with the driver (far right).





Signs carried to represent equal marriage in the London Pride Parade (Photo by, 2002)
Our signs began clustered around our car, but they soon dispersed through the marchers, as we made our way down King Street. We presume they are somebody's collector's item now.
(click on pic to enlarge)





A sprite in the forest.  (Photo by, 2002)
A London pioneer. How many Church-street Torontonians have this much Pride? See the crowds? Exactly. Why doesn't Toronto support this city as they combat indifference and faith-based abuse?





Jennifer, Eric and Shelley (Photo by, 2002)
Jennifer, Eryck and Shelley talked with us about what marriage decision meant to them personally, and how the judement gave them hope that their son would grow up in a more loving world.
(Click on pic to enlarge)





Link to learn more about how you can help couples across Canada pay for this important legal struggle.





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London Pride Parade

Marriage March - July 14th 2002

Two gay men who won an Ontario court battle to have their church wedding legally recognized were "on Cloud 9" after arriving in London last night to celebrate Pride Week.

"I'm not a second-class citizen anymore," said Joe Varnell.
The London Free Press, July 13, 2021

This front-page photograph offended readers of the London Free Press.  Photo by Dave Chidley.  Link to July 20 Editorial defending the decision to  print the picture.Writer offended by photo of gays

I was offended by the large photo on the front page of the July 13 edition. It depicted two gays after winning a court battle to have homosexual marriages recognized by the province. I understand the media want to cover such news, but I urge you keep it to small articles without photos. The silent majority of Ontarians feel this decision is nothing to celebrate. It's a massive slap in the face to traditional families. I find the way you portrayed this issue morally offensive and an infringement on the rights of those who support family values.

Klaas Stoker
London, Ontario
Letter to the Editor - The London Free Press
July 17, 2021

Writer feels photo lacked news value

I would like to refer to the Saturday headline, Gays win right to wed (July 13). I think your newspaper must be desperate for a Canadian news story to use one half of the front page on a photo that is of interest mainly to gays. Surely, somewhere in Canada there must be a more newsworthy event. I hope this is not an example of your new direction.

Graham Forster
Springfield, Ontario
Letter to the Editor - The London Free Press
July 18, 2021

London Pride - Only The Beginning

Toronto's GLBT Community Should Rally 'Round

It had been an incredible day - July 12, 2002. News of the Ontario judgement had spread quickly, and we had been kept busy all day with the media. We finished the last interview at 4 pm and we rushed to catch a 5 pm train bound for London, Ontario and the pride parade.

We arrived two hours later at the London train station where we were met by a reporter and photographer from the London Free Press who were there to capture the cover story for the Saturday edition ("Gays win right to wed" the headline read the next day, "A gay couple who sued for the right to marry is in London for Pride Week."). We still had one more photo session to do (for the cover of Voices), and a radio interview for a syndicated program. It wasn't until 10:30 p.m. that we were able to have some time to ourselves to reflect a bit on the incredible events of the day, before collapsing into exhausted sleep

Pansy Division rehearses in London, Ontario  (photo by, 2002)We did more media work on Saturday, but we also had time to explore the city, where we found ourselves warmly greeted by strangers. We walked the parade route to the fair grounds to give ourselves an orientation before the parade the next day. At the fairgrounds we found a band rehearsing for a concert later that night. We couldn't linger, however, as we had signs to make in preparation for the parade the next day before we went out for some celebratory dancing in the local gay bar, Club 181.

The next morning, we were back in the bar, this time to attend a special pride Sunday Joe Varnell, Rev. Dudley, and Kevin Bourassa (Photo by, 2002)worship service with London's Holy Fellowship Metropolitan Community Church. We greeted the Reverend Deana Dudley and enjoyed a worship service that delivered a message that GLBT people are God's people too; Gay by God. Afterwards we were able to hear how the Ontario decision had personally impacted members of the congregration and learn what it meant to them. It was inspiring.

The parade began shortly after 1:30. Starting from a parking lot beside Club 181, marchers walked under the nearly deserted Galleria shopping mall, and stepped back into the sunshine on our The parade of marchers, as seen from the back of our car.  (Photo by, 2002)way to the fair grounds. Spirits were high and people were fabulous in their PRIDE. London is a city with wonderful restaurants and friendly service, but the conservative values keep people home from the parade, except for a few saintly supporters, and some faith-based protestors. It's easy to take part in the Toronto parade, but it takes guts to be visible when your neighbors turn their back on you or denounce your life.

The True Pride Spirit

It would be great to see the Toronto GLBT community come out in large numbers to line the parade route and support our marching LGBT brothers, sisters and families in London. They are working for us all in the often unfriendly rural areas of Ontario.

The spirit of London's Pride was perhaps best exemplified by the young womaWill You Marry Me?  (made by Marcie Saddy) These buttons were being handed out in celebration of the Ontario marriage victory.  (Photo by, 2002)n, a local artist named Marcie Saddy, who came up to our vehicle during the parade with a big grin on her face. Her eyes sparkled with emotion as she presented us with a button. It read, "Will You Marry Me?" in black lettering on top of a rainbow background. I looked up at her in amazement, wondering where she had found button's like this so quickly - one day after judgement? She had a whole bag of them. Marcie looked at me and shouted gleefully, not quite above the music. I could just read her lips before she turned away to hand out some more.

"I made them!"


Thank you to everyone who made our visit so special. We greatly appreciated your generosity and kindness.

Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell