Pride Month in Saskatchewan has passed the halfway mark, with plenty of communities holding events to celebrate, with plenty more set to take place in the second half.
Saskatoon Meewasin MLA Nathaniel Teed has attended plenty of the Pride events this month across the month.
As the first and only openly-gay MLA in the province, he said this month had been a testament to the strong sense of community that is part of the province.
“It’s been really fantastic to see everyone coming together, making our Saskatchewan community even bigger and more inclusive. It was just amazing to see so many people come out and really make a statement that hatred and prejudice have no place in our cities and in our province, and I think that was really the big message that was sent.”
He said the province has come a long way in becoming a more inclusive environment.
“Some of the organizers in Regina were talking about how the first Pride Parade took place on the sidewalks of the city because organizers weren’t able to get a permit or were refused a permit,” he said. “Fast forward to today, when you’re seeing thousands of people come out. You see these parades that will go on for kilometres and have kilometres worth of people watching the parades. I think we’ve come a long way in sending that message that you’re free to be who you are and free to love who you are.”
While progress has been made, Teed said that work needs to continue.
“The one thing that I’ve been really championing is I think that the Government should ban conversion therapy,” he said. “One really simple gesture that would send a really strong message to the province and to the 2SLGTBQIA+ community. Every level of government across the country has made efforts to ban it. Saskatchewan is one of the last holdouts.”
Teed, who was elected to his seat nine months ago, said he decided to run because he believes that representation and visibility are important, especially for the Pride community.
“We’ve had queer people throughout the years that existed in the chamber, but we’ve never had an authentic voice at the table,” he said. “During my time in the College of Education, I did a lot of research into the importance of visibility and representation in the education field from teachers, EAs, and principles, and I think it’s even more important to have representation and visibility at the tables in the halls of power.”
“For the first time in history, when school groups come through the Legislature to sit in the viewing stands, and adults who look down, they will finally be able to see someone like them.”
Teed said it’s important to celebrate Pride Month but to also remember that there are still people directing hate towards the community.
“We remind people that we’re celebrating, but it’s also a protest because even today, you see prejudices and hateful policies and hateful speech being directed to diverse people across the province during Pride,” he said. “We’re seeing backlash to things as simple as a Drag Queen storytime. “We have to keep making space and have to continue to build a world that is accepting and open.”