While we have made much progress in the fight against homophobia and transphobia, the uprising of right-wing protesters at many of this year’s Ontario PRIDE events, shows just how vital PRIDE remains.

Brandishing signs that state, “Hell awaits you” and “Turn or burn”, anti-LGBTQ protesters have been turning up at events, with some, screaming obscene taunts at participants. We cannot stand by and let this hate and aggression go unchallenged.

None of us can afford to become complacent about the critical importance of PRIDE events in our communities.

Why is it that massive outcry from the LGBTQ and allies was required to get Toronto police to finally acknowledge and identify a serial killer targeting mostly racialized gay men? Years of police inaction led to the senseless deaths of many because the lives of brown gay men were not a priority. We cannot afford to be complacent.

New Premier-elect, Doug Ford, has promised to scrap Ontario’s sex education curriculum to appease those who are threatened by the teaching of diversity and tolerance. Our province is now led by a government that wants to take our society backwards. We cannot afford to be complacent.

We must recognize that racism, ableism and religious intolerance mean that not all receive equal treatment or recognition even within our LGBTQ communities. Our fight for LGBTQ rights must be a fight against discrimination in all its forms.

With the rise of public and aggressive homophobia, the partnerships between labour and other LGBTQ allies becomes even more essential. With the many attacks we are experiencing from the political right, we cannot allow ourselves to be picked off and divided.

This year, CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn was asked to be grand marshal for the Kincardine PRIDE parade. It is on the frontlines of these small-town PRIDES that our presence matters most. Everyone deserves to grow up and live in a community that is open and accepting. Part of our work as unionists is to use our power and privilege to help make this a reality.

CUPE Ontario encourages all our members to join the PRIDE events in your community. In the face of rising right-wing protesters, we must come together. We cannot afford to be complacent.

A list of local PRIDE events can be found at: www.cupe.on.ca/pride-2018/