Celebrating diversity, inclusivity and the ‘SUM of us’ at Pride 2017

Pride flag

June marks national Pride month; a month in which we seek to eliminate discrimination and prejudice by recognizing the LGBTQ+ community worldwide. Every year, a Pride Parade is held in the heart of Downtown Toronto, where thousands march to celebrate diversity, gender variances, and the right to be whomever they may be.The Glow Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity is the oldest LGBTQ+ student-run organization in Canada. On June 25, ninety-six UWaterloo representatives, which included students, staff, and faculty, participated in this year’s Pride Parade.

We were able to connect with Charley Peitzmeier, a science exchange student and one of the coordinators for Glow, who was able to share their experience.

Pride this year felt more political again. More like a protest, a march for rights, and not merely a street party

Charley peitzmeier 

This year’s Pride theme was the '+' symbol, which represented community, inclusivity and the acceptance of difference and diversity. Glow took this theme and personalized their own slogan, which was the “SUM of us.” They truly lived by this motto, as they made history by having President Feridun Hamdullahpur join in on the celebration. 

Waterloo students and staff at Pride

I think most would say marching with President Hamdullahpur was just like marching with everyone else - in a good way! Students really appreciated his approachability and enthusiasm as he was walking among us, wearing the same shirt, dancing the same dance and cheering the same cheers. We were all representing UWaterloo, and he was not just the President that day - he was one of us!

Charley peitzmeier 

Every year, Glow comes up with a dance specifically for the Pride Parade, and President Hamdullahpur certainly did not shy away from dancing right alongside them. This year, Glow’s song was “Try Everything” by Shakira. 

The dance became the highlight of the march because there is something incredibly powerful about such a large group of people simultaneously launching their rainbow-flag, clenching fists skywards while singing 'I won’t give up, no I won’t give in

Charley peitzmeier 

In support of the LGBTQ+ community, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, marched in the parade for the second year in a row.

Simply knowing that the Prime Minister is walking the same streets as you are, for the same cause, is very reassuring to many. Trudeau coming back to march again says: I respect your community. I respect your decisions. I am still supportive.

Charley peitzmeier 

Ultimately, UWaterloo has truly become a place of diversity, reaching students from different backgrounds, races, genders, and sexual orientations from around the world. This year’s march truly signified the '+' theme, as everyone truly joined together to show pride for love, equality and overall acceptance. 

It’s always very special to see other UWaterloo students watching the parade and cheering for us; some of whom graduated over a year ago. That moment, when someone outside shouts 'Water-Water-Water' and the entire body of marchers immediately replies 'Loo-Loo-Loo!',you know that you may not see the person; you may not even know the person, but you are connected by your school and by your pride. That moment is something very beautiful.

Charley peitzmeier 

Although Pride is over, Glow certainly has more in store for the rest of this term. Click here to learn more about their available services, and don’t forget to follow their Facebook page to keep up with upcoming events! 

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