Guest Blog- Resurgence: Taking Back Space

Guest blog written by Bre Woligroski, Sexuality & Reproductive Health Facilitator for SERC

Portage Avenue looked very different than it did 30 years ago.

Or so I am told. As an under-40 self-identified baby queer, it is hard for me to understand what it was like at that first Pride Winnipeg parade, the one where many members of my community had to march with paper bags covering their identities for fear of losing their jobs and losing their families. It is hard for me to fully comprehend the courage those in that first parade took in standing in front of news cameras and protestors, holding hands and bravely stepping forward for their civil rights, and the rights of those to come.

As I marched down Portage Avenue, holding the hand of my beloved, I was overcome with this sense of history, of gratitude to those who paved the way before us and with the burden of knowing how far we still have to go.

This year Pride Winnipeg chose the theme of Resurgence: Taking Back Space. It is an essential and timely theme, focused on increasing the diversity, inclusivity and accessibility of the festival for all members of the LGBTTQ+ community, especially those who have been historically and socially undervalued by the more visible identity groups.

Pride is a complicated and emotional time. Such a mix of joy and celebration, stories where we have both supported and hurt each other. So many experiences of affectionate chosen family and estranged biological ones. Of unity and conflict and diversity, of holding hands while at the same time silencing certain voices. Of both pride and shame in the same march, on the same avenue where Winnipeg history was made 3 decades ago.

This year’s Pride theme and activities were a positive first step in acknowledging the hurts and conflicts which exist within our community. I am grateful to those who had the courage to share their stories of negative experiences. By continuing to listen to each other and struggle together, we have hope that the Pride march will keep changing to become truly diverse, inclusive and accessible to all of our community members.

Imagine what Portage Avenue will look like then.