Marching with Pride
Shambhalians in Halifax make a splash of Great Eastern Sun with a float for the local Pride Parade
by Dan Corbett
How do we show pride in our community? What could be the biggest, most outrageous display we could cast forth before an audience of tens of thousands? The first thing that comes to my mind is a parade float. And float, we did.
In case you missed it, in July of this year, a steel, wood and fabric shrine pulled by a tandem bicycle carried the Primordial Rigden (in the form of India Gailey) entirely uphill from the harbour to the Citadel as part of the 2016 Halifax Pride Parade. The pedestrian entourage, proudly displaying the Shambhala name on a large banner, accompanied the rolling shrine in wonderful cheer for what turned out to be a truly magical day.
As it happens, making a float isn’t easy. Several crucial souls (Alex Tremblay, Brin Jones, Sarah Furey, and India Gailey) invested many hours in creating the frame, the façade, the costume and the container for this project. To the people who made it happen and to the community that supported us, my gratitude flows ceaselessly.
Through the week approaching the parade, I’d grown so consumed by the construction process that’d I’d almost lost sight of what it was that we were building. But on parade day, when finally I saw India sitting atop our shrine, when I saw the ride come alive, I was overtaken with joy. I thought that was the end of the magic, that I’d seen the forest as well as the trees. But in truth, that was only the beginning. The ninety minutes that followed as we rolled through the streets of Halifax were pure wonder. The faces of the crowd were painted with curiosity, amazement, delight, and love. India and her whole entourage positively radiated the joy of Great Eastern Sun. All those who caught a glimpse felt the light.
Beyond the almost entirely positive reactions to the parade, the most moving part for me was the minute of silence. At 1:45pm, the parade came to a halt, the music stopped, and everyone took a minute to reflect upon the past and ongoing violence in the world that specifically targets persons identifying as LGBTQ. It breaks my heart to know that people in this world are made to suffer simply for being who they are. At the same time, it warms my heart to know that tens of thousands of people can come together in the streets of Halifax to embrace diversity, to celebrate the very thing for which many others around the world are unfairly persecuted. I’m especially proud to be a part of a spiritual community that can sincerely fly the rainbow flag on our front porch, welcoming everyone and working to grow tolerance the world around.
I send out my thanks to Halifax, and to the Sangha. You are all wonderful to me!
Editor’s Note: Fundraising efforts prior to the parade didn’t quite reach the target. It’s not too late to donate a few dollars towards the float project. Any surplus money will help ensure the float rolls again in years to come. Please visit this page to donate. Earmark donations for this project by writing “Pride Float” in the comments field.
Another Editor’s Note: If you know of other LGBTQ programs and events, please send them my way at [email protected], and help the Shambhala Times do more to fly the rainbow flag online!
Dan Corbett works with Community Enrichment & Engagement in Halifax, Nova Scotia