It’s that time of year again. Plans are being made, hotels booked, and events advertised. Although the festivities are by no means limited to one page of the calendar, June is recognized as Pride Month around the world. Closer to home, Toronto is eagerly preparing for its Pride Week (June 19 – 28).
I can’t help but remember last year, when Toronto hosted World Pride. I wrote a blog post in which I talked about how fortunate we were to be living in this time and in this place with all our rights and freedoms.
During the past twelve months the world has continued to blunder forward in all its complexity. Many right-wing Christian lawmakers in the U.S. continued their anti-gay agenda. More than seventy-five countries maintained their laws under which it is illegal to be LGBT. At least five of of those countries can employ the death sentence for breaking those laws. And yet, there have been victories: some personal; others as public and astounding as the Irish Gay Marriage Referendum.
Through all of this, Pride activities continue to be important. They are opportunities to celebrate how far we’ve come, and to give hope to those still struggling on an individual or national level. Across Canada some communities have already completed their annual celebrations, while others are just gearing up for films, picnics, cabarets, dance parties, and parades. Some organizers have also included literary events. I consider those to be just as important as the more colourful or boisterous gatherings .
The significance of LGBTQ writing is not limited to one genre, but the following view of lesbian fiction from glbtq.com is worth consideration, in that it resonates well beyond its own parametres:
From the great modernist writers of the 1920s and 1930s to the pulp writers of the 1950s to the lesbian writers of today, lesbian novelists have had a powerful impact on the lesbian community. Not only do lesbian novels define and redefine what it means to be a lesbian in our society, they provide an important record of changing cultural attitudes toward lesbianism. By depicting different versions of the lesbian experience, the lesbian novel enriches and enhances lesbian culture.
I am fortunate to live in a city that celebrates its LGBTQ writers all year round, thanks mainly to the efforts of Glad Day Bookshop. This time of year sees even more excitement. From June 20 – 28 the bookshop will host Sixteen Proud Voices Events, which will include everything from poetry to erotic writing.
The Brockton Writers Series in Toronto is another great supporter, and each year it hosts a Queer Night.
Victoria is presenting Pride in the Word 2015 on July 4th with readings by Ivan Coyote, Michael V. Smith, and others. If you’re in Montreal between August 10th and 16th, you’ll be able to attend the fourth edition of Fierté littéraire.
Many other Canadian cities have yet to post a list of Pride events, but I would hope to see opportunities whereby readers and writers from the LGBTQ community are encouraged to gather in celebration of our stories.
If you know of an upcoming literary Pride event in your area, please share it with us in the comment section.