25 years later, 1st Regina pride parade remembered
In 1990, police chief refused group's request for parade permit
Prejudice still exists, but a lot has changed in 25 years since the first pride parade in Regina, says one of the original participants.
On Monday morning, the rainbow flag was raised at City Hall in recognition of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
A parade is set for Saturday, marking the 25th anniversary of the event that Kathy Hamre says she remembers well.
In 1990, members of the group could not get a parade permit after then-police chief Ernie Reimer turned them down. At the time, Reimer said it wouldn't be right to authorize a parade on a public street to celebrate people's sexual preferences.
But that didn't stop the marchers, Hamre said.
"They marched down College Avenue to Albert Street toward the Legislature without a parade permit from the city," she said.
There are still people who attack others based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
What's different is, there are more supporters now and they are more vocal, Hamre said.
"I think more people are challenging them and saying, 'Well that's not true', when they make a disparaging comment," Hamre said. "I think we've learned through the struggles of lots of oppressed people that we have to speak up."
Hamre noted many people walking in that first pride parade in 1990 wore masks to conceal their identities and to make a statement.
"We tried to use it a little bit as a political statement about how closeted people still needed to be, because they didn't have protection from discrimination in employment or in housing or in services, even," she said.
The parade begins June 20 downtown at noon and ends at Victoria Park, where there will be a festival.
A number of other events were set to take place in the Queen City, ahead of the parade.
At one, an art event at the library Monday night, people spoke of the changes in Regina since since the first parade.
"There's a lot more visibility than ever before," Jesse Ireland, co-chair of the parade, said.
"I'm very appreciative of where we have come," Ireland added. "I [also] have to be very appreciative of people who were before me fighting for those rights of equality and freedom that I now have because of them."