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Safe Spaces



The first time I went to a Pride parade was when I was 18. I was living in Montreal and our church building was ironically located in the Gay Village. While I was in a small Sunday school class of myself,  my younger sister and my teacher, who was only a year or two older than I, and definately more worldly and rebelious than I, watched the parade from the window. My teacher suggested we go down and watch. This both terrified and excited me. We snuck outside, making sure none of the others knew where we were going. The parade was loud and colourful and shocking for my sheltered Mormon eyes. Everyone was dancing and singing, and so much skin! I remember the exact outfit I was wearing...a long navy blue skirt with small floral print down to my ankles, of course. I was wearing a bulky sweater, which now seems ridiculous 
considering Montreal’s hot humid summers. I stuck out, and not in a good way. I felt out of place, so far from what the church had taught me about the ‘homosexuals’. They were happy...and that confused me. I wasn’t in a place to recognise real joy yet.
The second time I went to Pride, I was 36. It was in Calgary this time, in Canada’s most conservative
province. By now I had come to terms with who I was to an extent, a closeted gay woman, upset with the church who raised her to hate herself, but still stuck in the only world I had ever known. I went to the parade by myself, nervous and scared. But what I saw when I got there was a breath of oxygen to a girl that had been holding her breath for a long time. I saw kindness and support. I saw fun and excitement. I saw allyship and love. I saw a place where everyone got to be just who they are, without being harassed. They were celebrated even! I felt safe. I didn’t stay too long, but long enough to see kindness - a kindness I hadn’t felt at my church, a safety that gave me a place to exist without hiding. I knew no one, but felt welcomed by everyone. This wasn’t exclusive to me either...everyone was safe, everyone was kind. This time, the garish costumes and loud music, the laughing and the singing, the smiles and the cheering, the 
happiness and love gave me a place to be free. 
Now for me, Pride means safety and kindness for everyone. A rainbow flag means a place to feel secure with myself and my queerness - a place that I am all right just as I am, not despite who I am. 


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