Rainbow flag flies proud at York

Canadian flag and Pride flagThe rainbow flag is a visual symbol of diversity, said Noël Badiou, director of the Centre for Human Rights, at the kick-off to the 2011 Pride celebrations at York on Monday.

“Its very essence is to capture the notion that while each of us may be slightly different, we are still made of the same fabric,” said Badiou. “The stitching together of the colours also symbolizes unity, and this unity at York is expounded with the flying of the flag at both the Keele and Glendon campuses.”

The rainbow flag was raised on the flagpole at York’s Keele campus after a series of speakers were introduced by Aaron Doupe, Pride coordinator, in Vari Hall next to a rainbow cake and a splay of rainbow-coloured balloons.

Aaron Doupe, Pride coordinator, speaks at the kick-off to Pride Week at YorkRight: Aaron Doupe, Pride coordinator, speaks at the kick-off to Pride Week at York

Although much has been achieved, student Randy McLin, Trans Bisexual Lesbian Gays Allies at York internal coordinator, told the gathering that the fight isn’t over. “There is a lot of work to be done,” he said.

That work will be continued at the Pride Parade in Toronto where the theme of this year’s float is We Demand Redux, in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the We Demand march on Parliament Hill in Ottawa (see YFile, Thursday, June 16). “Five original demands will be highlighted on the float,” said McLin. There will also be blank spots on T-shirts and placards for people to express their own demands.

Alison Kemper, who teaches in York’s School of Administrative Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, said York should be proud. The Slut Walks, which started at the University, have spread around the globe. “York is where student-led change which is global can happen.” Kemper also said York is great because here you are free to be “out”.

Noël Badiou at the Pride Week kick-offLeft: Noël Badiou at the Pride Week kick-off

Vice-President Students Robert Tiffin said the University’s participation in Pride Week stems from its public commitment to the full inclusion of all sexual and gender groups on its campuses, which is evident in the courses and academic programs offered at the University.

“York has long advocated the linkages between research, teaching and community. For example, the certificate and minor in sexuality studies has its foundations in the academic research and activism of York faculty, students and staff who are committed to the pursuit of critical, new and self-reflective studies in sexualities,” said Tiffin. “York is the only university in Ontario to offer a certificate in sexuality studies, and is the only one in North America to embrace an intersectional approach throughout interdisciplinary courses.”

Alison Kemper, a faculty member in the School of Administrative StudiesRight: Alison Kemper, a faculty member in the School of Administrative Studies

Badiou congratulated the United Nations Human Rights Council for passing a motion last Friday “supporting a joint statement calling on all states and countries to end violence, criminal sanctions and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and urged the Human Rights Council to address these important human rights issues.” He called it an unprecedented move by the council that “demonstrates a growing awareness and concern for the plight of LGBTTIQQ2SA persons in different parts of the world.”

Robert Tiffin, vice-president studentsLeft: Robert Tiffin, vice-president students

“As a society and a community we need Pride Week and its spirit of hope, joy and inclusivity,” said Tiffin. “We should all be guided by the spirit of the rainbow flag.”

For more information about York’s Pride activities, visit the SexGen York Committee website.

By Sandra McLean, YFile writer