WINNIPEG – The 27th annual Winnipeg Pride Parade took over downtown Sunday with people celebrating being who they are and the LGBTTQ community.
“This is a marvelous way of saying to people, whoever you are, whatever your identity is, you’re welcomed and accepted here, you’re celebrated here,” said Pride supporter Jolene Braun.
Thousands marched in the parade, from the Winnipeg police pipe marching band and local businesses to church and school groups. Joining the parade can be difficult for students going against the norm.
“Which is why we have groups like this in our school and we’re very fortunate to have the support,” said teacher Wendy Memka.
Even children marched along.
“We want them to understand that diversity is important and everyone’s rights are important,” said Brienne Santos, who brought her children to the parade.
Leading the parade as grand marshal was Hamed, a refugee from Iran who only felt comfortable revealing his first name after coming to Winnipeg fearing for his life.
“In 2010 I had to leave Iran because I was under so much pressure from family, society. I was living with someone as my partner and lots of problems came out of our relationship and I couldn’t stand it anymore,” said Hamed.
This year’s theme for the festival was without borders, a vision of a world with justice, equality and freedom of expression without barriers — something Hamed now has in Winnipeg.
“Being out as a gay person and here right now is a dream for me,” said Hamed.
The 10-day festival ended Sunday night with a dance party at the MET going until 3 a.m.
© Shaw Media, 2014