London Pride - 2003 (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)

 

 

Joe Varnell standing beside the grand marshal vehicle used in the parade. (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
Joe Varnell beside the grand marshal vehicle used in the parade.

 

 

Divine fashion statements in the London parade. (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
Divine fashion statements

 

 

Proud family (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
Proud family waves to the passing parade.

 

 

Signs of the times (Photos by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
Signs of the times

 

 

Dancing children (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
Dancing children at the fairgrounds

 

 

Read more about Just Married

 

 

Kevin Bourassa, Joe Varnell, Bill Worrell and John Lockhart (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
Kevin Bourassa, Joe Varnell, Bill Worrall (London Pride organizer), and author John Lockhart.

 

 

Rolling with pride (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
Rolling with pride.

 

 

Joe Varnell visiting the various Pride booths (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
Joe Varnell visiting the Pride booths.

 

 

Joe Varnell and Bill Worrall  (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
Joe Varnell and Bill Worrall

 

 

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Advocacy News

London Pride Parade
July 13, 2003

"A festive mood prevailed as parade goers revelled in last month's Ontario Court of Appeal ruling giving same-sex couples the legal right to marry. Marriage pioneers Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell of Toronto acted as parade marshals, while seminars on the topic peppered the three-day London Pride celebration."
London Free Press, July 14, 2003

The fairgrounds where participants gathered at the end of the London Pride parade (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
The fairgrounds at the end of the Pride parade route.


London, Ontario - On the invitation of Kathleen Holland and Bill Worrall, and the rest of London Pride, we returned to this hospitable city to be theVisiting author John Lockhart waves from the parade route.  External link to John's book,  (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003) grand marshals in the Pride parade and to conduct two workshops: one based on the contents of our book (Just Married: Gay marriage and the expansion of human rights), and the second based on the legal aspects of our journey to full and equal marriage.

The organizers of London Pride distinguished themselves from many of the other pride activities in cities across Canada by organizing three days of workshops and seminars conducted by visiting authors and experts, including San Diego author John Lockhart (The Gay Man's Guide to Growing Older). The result was a week of style and substance.

Lorraine Bullard and Deb Harper (Photo courtesy of the couple, 2003)We had the pleasure of meeting Lorraine Bullard and Deb Harper (right), the first lesbian couple to get married in Chatham-Kent. The happy couple attended one of our seminars, and recognizing them, we thought they were a couple we had met during our previous visit to London. Instead, as we discovered, we had seen their photograph in news coverage about their wedding. In smaller cities and towns all across Ontario, couples have come forward, allowing their stories to be told, letting neighbours know that same-sex marriage is a local issue everywhere.

Bonnie Bowen and Kathleen Garley, celebrating 30 years of friendship and newfound freedom to marry.  (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)The Pride parade was the highlight of the week, with many of the participants and onlookers inspired by the victories for equal marriage in Ontario and British Columbia courts.

"It's nice to know when I do want to get married, I have the right," Bonnie Bowen told the London Free Press, dressed in a wedding gown along with Kathleen Garley. It was the pair's first time ever participating in a Pride parade, motivated by the tremendous strides forward for equality in Canada.

Others marched for the first time in the parade, for similar reasons, iBrenda Boswell Simpson (left), marched in her first Pride parade, helping to support a banner from the London chapter of PFLAG. (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)ncluding one of our friend, Brenda Boswell Simpson, a women's advocate who works in the region. Brenda joined one of our workshops with her husband and then marched in the parade, helping to support a PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays) banner.

We also had a chance to say hello to Pride participants who we had the pleasure of meeting, and introducing to our web site visitors, last year. Shelley returned with her son Eryck. Eryck, Shelley and her son Eryck (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003) returned, again, sporting the colours of pride and diversity . Increasingly, parents, straight and gay, are bringing their children to Pride parades to instill within them a respect for diversity. No child is born homophobic.

Perhaps that was the message conveyed by the presence of two characters known to children around the world from their appearances on televisions educational Sesame Street. Bert and Ernie marched in the parade holding hands and generally spreading smiles where ever they went.

Halo, an equality advocacy group, had cards available at their information table (right), pre-addressed with messages to local members of parliament. The cards expressed "disgrace" to Pat O'Brien and Joseph Fontana for opposing equal marriage and thanked Sue Barnes for her support.
Shocked?  Get over it!  Two Women in Love - Equality Rights, Equal Same-sex Marriage Kisses

Bert and Ernie show their pride (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)Local bigots were back again this year in an attempt to spread their hate, some giving the participants in the parade the finger, others holding signs with outrageous statements like, "Save the gerbils." It was sad and funny at the same time. But these dark clouds of intolerance were blown away by the high spirits of the parade marchers and the supportive onlookers, gay and straight.

Rev. Deana Dudley (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)The presence of a faith community in the parade sent an important message to those who oppose equality for same-sex couples. Rev. Deana Dudley and members of the Holy Fellowship Metropolitan Community Church (worship services at 10:30 a.m. at 388 Dundas St., Suite 305, London) marched the parade route, carrying their banner. The Holy Fellowship also staffed an information table in a vendor area at the fairgrounds, and offered an open-air service at 11:00 a.m., prior to the parade. Another faith community that has been supportive of LGBT equality, The Unitarian Fellowship, also partipcated in the festivities. Increasingly congregations that are welcoming and inclusive are finding an audience for their message of tolerance among the gay community.

Pride perch above the King Street parade (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
Pride perch above King Street
Holy Fellowship Metropolitan Community Church  information table (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
Holy Fellowship MCC info table

Thank you to everyone in London who made our visit so special. We greatly appreciated your generosity and kindness. We encourage visitors from other cities to make the trip to London next year and experience the spirit of this enthusiastic community. It will be a time to remember for all.

Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell

London Pride volunteers . SELECT to enlarge (Photo by equalmarriage.ca, 2003)
London Pride volunteers
(Click to enlarge)

Our report from the 2002 London parade


Read a selection of comments from our mail.Link to our media coverage of related issues.