David Bayda wants to spread the message of love and acceptance through a special project – a Pride Bench.
Bayda, 34, is the mastermind behind the bench, which is painted in rainbow colours and was displayed during Edmonton Pride festivities on Saturday. It was part of the 100 in 1 Day event in the city.
“For a lot of LGBTQ people, it can be nerve-wracking to showcase signs of public affection. This is designed to show support that it is okay to be yourself,” he said.
For Bayda, the bench also holds extra significance – he came out on social media about two weeks ago.
“For my own story of coming out, it was a really challenging process. There are such negative stereotypes about being gay. The coming out process took place over a number of many, many years,” he said.
“It was actually only a few years ago when I did realize I was actually gay. That was a big awakening for myself but I am a lot happier now. The ability to be myself and just be who I am really means a lot to me.”
Bayda said he took to Facebook to pen a coming-out message because he wanted to be true to himself.
“For me, it’s really important to show authenticity. I really wanted to make sure I was being free to be myself. By sharing a bit about my story, I do want to help encourage people who might be struggling to feel free to be themselves,” he said.
“After I announced I was gay, there was definitely a feeling of being a lot freer. The weight was lifted off my shoulders. The ability to be myself is really transcendent.”
Bayda has been to Pride parades in the past but Saturday’s event was his first since publicly announcing his sexual orientation.
“This year, I’m actually able to fully be who I am with my partner and not be afraid about hiding anything,” he said.
“I feel good being myself that I can live this more authentic life now. I’m able to just love – love myself – and really to love other people as well.”