- Justin Trudeau made history by becoming the 1st prime minister to participate in a gay pride march
- He has previously marched in the Pride parade but this is his 1st time as a prime minister
- This year’s march was dedicated to the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida
Toronto’s Pride parade marked an important milestone on Sunday, June 2, as Justin Trudeau became the 1st sitting prime minister to join the annual march; reaffirming his support for the rights of the LGBTQ community in Canada.
Despite the buzz and positive feedback to what many consider as a historic moment, Trudeau was perplexed by the fanfare.
“I’ve been coming to this for years and it’s sort of frustrating that it has to be a big thing. It shouldn’t be a big thing that the prime minister is walking in the Pride Parade and from now on, it won’t,” the Canadian prime minister told BBC.
Trudeau has marched in the Toronto parade before, but this is the first time he has marched as the prime minister.
“Canada is united in its defense of rights and in standing up for LGBTQ rights; this is what we are truly celebrating today,” Trudeau said after raising the rainbow flag on Parliament Hill to kick off Pride Month.
But this year’s march is tinged with sadness, in light of the devastating shooting that took place in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The parade was dedicated to the 49 victims of the mass shooting.
Meanwhile, journalist and queer activist Andrea Houston told CTV News Channel that the Pride march, at its core, is “a political protest” and criticized the prime minister for striking down rules that prevent gay men from donating blood.
Blood donation rules have been pushed to the forefront in the wake of the Orlando shooting when local blood banks were making desperate calls for donations, but initially barred gay men, including survivors of the violence, from donating due to legislative restrictions.
Canada upholds a similar ban on gay blood donation as the United States, but Trudeau says his government is working on it; citing the relaxation of blood-donation restrictions on gay men, but said such measure is “not good enough.”