Trudeau walks with ‘drag queens’

First sit­ting prime min­is­ter to join pride pa­rade

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC -

Throngs of peo­ple lined the streets of down­town Hal­i­fax Satur­day to see a sit­ting prime min­is­ter walk in the city’s Pride pa­rade for the first time.

The rain­bow-clad crowd erupted in cheers as Justin Trudeau marched in the pro­ces­sion with his fam­ily at his side.

Trudeau was dressed ca­su­ally in a pink shirt and white pants, while wife So­phie Gre­goire Trudeau wore a wide­brimmed hat to shade her­self from the sun.

The prime min­is­ter waved and yelled “Happy Pride!” to thou­sands of peo­ple along the pa­rade route, stop­ping pe­ri­od­i­cally to take self­ies as mem­bers of the crowd called out his name.

A cou­ple of drag queens decked in makeup and vo­lu­mi­nous wigs wrapped their arms around Trudeau as they posed for a group photo, af­ter which the buxom blonds thanked the prime min­is­ter with a hug.

“What a plea­sure it is to be here,” he told them. “We all are to­gether.”

Trudeau walked near the front of the pro­ces­sion, in­ter­mit­tently flanked by marchers car­ry­ing a rain­bow flag, a group of princesses and a float spout­ing con­fetti.

As the fes­tiv­i­ties paused for a mo­ment of si­lence, Trudeau raised his fist along­side sev­eral other mem­bers of the crowd.

Trudeau be­came the first sit­ting prime min­is­ter to march in a Pride pa­rade when he did so in Toronto in 2016, then at­tended the same event last month.

He told re­porters Fri­day that he longs for a day when his par­tic­i­pa­tion in Pride events won’t be so novel.

“I’ll be the first prime min­is­ter to walk in the Pride pa­rade in Hal­i­fax, but I’m very much look­ing for­ward to get­ting that over with so there won’t be any more ‘firsts’ and that it just be ex­pected that prime min­is­ters, when their sched­ules al­low, march in Pride pa­rades across the coun­try,” he said.

“(It’s) not just di­ver­sity of back­grounds, but it’s a di­ver­sity of ev­ery­thing that makes us dif­fer­ent as Cana­di­ans and that in­cludes stand­ing up strongly for the rights of the LGBT2Q com­mu­nity.”

Syd­ney Au­gus­tine-Bower made the roughly two-hour jour­ney from Antigo­nish, N.S., to Hal­i­fax so she could at­tend her first Pride pa­rade. Au­gus­tine-Bower, who iden­ti­fies as pan­sex­ual, said it was heart­en­ing to see the leader of Canada show­ing his sup­port for the LGBTQ com­mu­nity.

“I think it sends a re­ally im­por­tant mes­sage that the prime min­is­ter of Canada ... is go­ing to dance around with a bunch of peo­ple, a part of the com­mu­nity that (was) op­pressed for long,” Au­gustineBower said. “I think it’s great that these two groups of peo­ple who are very dif­fer­ent can come to­gether and have fun.”

Up­wards of 120,000 peo­ple par­tic­i­pate in the Hal­i­fax Pride pa­rade ev­ery sum­mer, or­ga­niz­ers said, and they ex­pected an even big­ger turnout this year thanks to their “spe­cial guest.”

Hal­i­fax’s po­lice ser­vice said in Fe­bru­ary that it would not par­tic­i­pate in this year’s Pride pa­rade amid a “na­tional de­bate” about po­lice in­volve­ment in such events.

Pride Toronto mem­bers had voted to os­ten­si­bly ban of­fi­cial po­lice floats from marches and pa­rades in Jan­uary, adopt­ing a list of de­mands put for­ward by that city’s chap­ter of Black Lives Mat­ter.

Some lo­cal groups - in­clud­ing the Queer Arabs of Hal­i­fax, the Dal­housie Stu­dent Union and the South House Sex­ual and Gen­der Re­source Cen­tre have said they are boy­cotting the pa­rade af­ter a res­o­lu­tion to re­move a pro-Is­rael cam­paign from the event was de­feated at Hal­i­fax Pride’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing last Oc­to­ber.

The first Hal­i­fax Pride March was held in 1988 with just 75 peo­ple. Since then, it has grown each sum­mer.


Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau poses for a photo with pa­rade go­ers dur­ing the an­nual Hal­i­fax Pride Pa­rade on Satur­day. He is the first sit­ting prime min­is­ter to par­tic­i­pate in a pride pa­rade.

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