Why A Solidarity Walk

By Sullivan Brenner

Pride month is here and a short two and a half weeks from now, the rainbows will paint Airdrie for the first time ever! Which makes this the perfect time reveal some inspiration behind our choice of a Solidarity Walk instead of the more common Pride parade.

The idea began with a desire for something more grassroots and down to earth, that would focus on connecting the community. With inspiration from the Treaty 7 Trans and Dyke March and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, we determined some sort of march instead of a parade would be the best way to unite people in a meaningful way and remember what is still to be fought for.

While we have made incredible progress since the spark that lit the flame 50 years ago, there are still sections of our communities that have not been carried forward in that progress. Queer People of Colour, particular Trans women of colour remain at the highest risk of violence, and such violence is frequently fatal. Disabled folks also remain a vulnerable population and are often left out of consideration all year long when events are planned at venues that are inaccessible or lack services such as interpreters. The most vulnerable populations of the various LGBTQ2IA+ communities will lead our march–youth, QTBIPOC, and disabled folks. With no in-uniform participation, due to the historic and continuing struggles between the LGBTQ2IA+ communities and law enforcement.

With the focus on bringing together the community and choosing to put together a march instead of a parade, the next thing to address was no political parties, or marketing and advertising.

Pride month is an incredible time of year where inclusion, acceptance, and celebration of the communities makes its way to the mainstream. The symbolic rainbow tints logo becomes the feature of new apparel and even makes its way around average household items. While this visibility is valuable and on the surface seems well meant, a large number of companies only go as far as adding a rainbow under their name and claiming they support the fight for equality in their ads. Meanwhile, when a person from the communities actually uses the services these companies provide and faces discrimination, they fail to stand up for us or even recognize that we have been hurt. One of the many examples of performative allyship. The other issue with this is “rainbow capitalism”. Where companies create pride products, using the flags, preaching “love is love”, and pocket the profit instead of giving the money they make off of our culture back to the community that actually needs it. Not to mention whether or not they involve someone identifying within the communities in the creation of these products.

The old saying “actions speak louder than words” rings true and brings us to the Solidarity walk. This is about the people who fight and face hardship every day, who choose to be themselves over their safety when they show their pride, those who are still unable to be out and proud, and those who support us and are here to fight the good fight with no second agenda. If you choose to participate, it is because it means something to you and you want to fight for that, not because you are getting something out of it.