Toronto

'Pride is political': More than a cute slogan for Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam

‘Pride is political.’ Kristyn Wong-Tam was sporting a grey tank top with those three words in neon pink at the Dyke March Saturday. But it’s more than just a catchy slogan for the openly gay Toronto city councillor.

Wong-Tam calls prime minister's appearance at today's parade 'very important symbolic gesture'

Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam speaks to CBC News about why Pride still matters in 2016. (CBC )

"'Pride is political."

Kristyn Wong-Tam was sporting a grey tank top with those three words in neon pink at the Dyke March Saturday.

But it's more than just a catchy slogan for the openly gay Toronto city councillor. And it packs added significance in light of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau becoming the first prime minister to participate in Toronto's Pride Parade today.

"The Pride Parade is always political so he's exactly where he needs to be," Wong-Tam told CBC News. "It's a very important symbolic gesture. We want to make sure (Trudeau's) here especially if he's trying to set a new tone for the country, a country that is accepting of all its diverse people, a country that actually celebrates diversity, and a country that promotes human rights."

Wong-Tam believes "visibility is what keeps our community strong."

"When people are in the closet or can't live their lives as freely as they need to, they don't reach their full potential and they live in fear and they live in fear of persecution and rejection," she said. "So, being able to be part of the community is everything."

Wong-Tam spoke candidly about her fiancée Farrah Khan feeling fearful following the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando last month.

Toronto Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and Farrah Khan spoke to mourners during a candlelight vigil in Toronto on June 12 to honour victims of the mass shootings in Orlando. She told CBC Khan was fearful following the attacks. (Christopher Katsarov/Canadian Press) ( Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

"That morning, when we both woke up and saw the headlines that there was this incredible tragedy, we were overwhelmed with sadness," she said. "We didn't know the motivation of the shooter so there was also an element of fear.

I remember her saying to me, 'Are they going to come and get us?' And I held her and we both cried.-  Kristyn Wong-Tam

"I remember her saying to me, 'Are they going to come and get us?' And I held her and we both cried."

She explained that she introduced Khan as her "queer Muslim fiancee" at a vigil following the massacre because she "wanted to offer the community a sense of honesty and raw emotion. We, too, were scared, we were upset and angry."

City councilor Kristyn Wong-Tam introduces her "queer Muslim fiancee" at Toronto's candle-light vigil for Orlando

CBC News: Toronto at 6:00

5 years ago
1:18
Hours after a mass shooting that saw some 50 nightclub-goers in Orlando massacred, Toronto city councilor Kristyn Wong-Tam stood in front of hundreds at a candle-light vigil, publicly introducing her LGBT Muslim partner, Farrah Khan. 1:18

Wong-Tam described the gay community as strong and resilient, adding that "we come together in times of hurt and pain, and we've done that time and time again." 

The Black Lives Matter Toronto Coalition led the annual Dyke March down Yonge Street to Carlton Street on Saturday afternoon. (Isabelle Gobeil/CBC)

The 36th Pride Parade ​will start at Church Street and Bloor Street East today, go west on Bloor Street East to Yonge Street, proceed south on Yonge Street to Dundas Street East and move along Dundas Street East to Victoria Street.

A number of roads in the area will be closed for varying periods between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., with the parade taking place from 2 to 6:30 p.m.

With files from Shannon Martin

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