The Vancouver Pride Society has named a group of moms, an international trailblazer and a young activist as this year’s Grand Marshals.
As the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) celebrates 35 years of Pride this year, they have chosen a diverse group of Grand Marshals who “have fostered, founded, and fought for Pride”. The Grand Marshals will lead the 2013 Vancouver Pride Parade on August 4, 2013.
The first of the trio are the “moms of PFLAG Vancouver”. PFLAG or Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is an international organization that provides support, education and resources on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity for the LGBTQ community. The three moms (Susan Harman, Karin Lind, and Aideen McKenna) have been part of PFLAG Vancouver for over a decade.
Joining the PFLAG moms is Zdravko Cimbaljevic, the founder and executive director of Montenegro’s LGBT Forum Progress which promotes LGBT rights in his home country. In 2010, Cimbaljevic shocked his small nation by being the first gay man to openly talk about his sexuality in the media.
Finally, the VPS honours Brandon Timmerman (photo right), the young activist from Brockville, Ontario who founded the Pride organization in his hometown at the age of 16.
“The opportunity to be a Grand Marshal is amazing,” says Timmerman. “To be recognized alongside Zdravko Cimbaljevic and the Vancouver PFLAG moms is both a privilege and an honor.”
Beginning his activism three years ago after losing a dear friend “because of issues surrounding their sexual orientation”, Timmerman has gone on to help organize the Pride celebrations in his hometown.
“My heart had already been torn at the loss of my friend, but my heart crumbled to bits when people began coming forward with stories of being publicly shamed in grocery stores, threatened at school, and much more because of their sexual orientation. I decided it was time for a change,” he says.
That change for Timmerman began with the creation of a Facebook support group that quickly gathered support online. From those online beginnings the Brockville Pride walk was born with over 400 people attending that first year and has grown each year since.
“We are currently in our third year of operations and are expecting 1000 plus people which is amazing for a small community,” says Timmerman. “I am beyond proud of Brockville. When I walk downtown and see stores bearing rainbow stickers all year round, our woman’s shelters now adding policies so that trans identified people can feel safe when they really need to feel safe, I realize that Brockville has become home that I am proud of.”
A trailblazer in his hometown of 22,000, Timmerman has some valuable advice for other youth looking to start such a movement in their own city.
“Don’t let the adults get all the glory,” he says. “We are both the leaders of today and tomorrow. Be the change you want to see in the world.”
He is also practical, reminding youth not to burn themselves out and to not be afraid to ask for help. But above all else, he says “don’t forget to have fun”.
Vancouver 2013 Pride Parade
Sunday, August 3, 2013 beginning at Noon
Visit http://vancouverpride.ca for more information.