Vancouver Pride Society names 2014 parade grand marshals

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Trans filmmaker Gwen Haworth is one of the 2014 Vancouver Pride Society's parade grand marshals.

The Vancouver Pride Society announced trans filmmaker Gwen Haworth (photo above), Gay Whistler’s Dean Nelson and the late gay rights pioneer ted northe as the grand marshals for the 2014 Vancouver Pride Parade.

Each year the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) chooses up to three who have helped to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues locally and around the world to lead the annual Pride parade, which will take place this year on Sunday, August 3.

“Grand marshals inspire us with their courage, conviction and dedication,” the VPS said in a recent release.

Trans filmmaker Gwen Haworth is probably best known for her award-winning 2007 documentary She’s A Boy I Knew, which chronicled her transition from biological male to female. Haworth’s most recent film, a woman with a past, is a short about trans, intersex poet Antonette Rea, which premiered in February at the Berlinale Film Festival. Haworth is also an educator with Vancouver Coastal Health and a volunteer member of the City of Vancouver’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee and the Vancouver Parks Board Trans and Gender Variant Inclusion Working Group.

“15 years ago, I was still shackled by my own self-silencing, due to the fear of marginalization,” says Haworth. “The years since have shown me how easy I have it compared to people who continually fight intersecting barriers and oppressions. Being recognized by the Pride Society is a call to action reaffirming my attempts to be more accountable when working alongside others in our overlapping social movements.”

Dean Nelson produces the annual WhistlerPRIDE Gay and Lesbian Ski Week and is co-founder of the Mr Gay World mentorship program. Dean was also instrumental in establishing the first Olympic Pride House, which celebrates the diversity and creates a safe space for LGBTQ athletes, at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“Yes, I was totally surprised,” says Nelson of being named a grand marshal. “To be given the honor of being this year’s recipient of the VPS Sports Legacy award at the start of May and now having the esteemed honor if being one of the grand marshals is totally overwhelming. I really appreciate the community acknowledging the work I have done on both a local and international stage in helping to make our lives safer and more inclusive.”

And while Haworth and Nelson come from very different places in the LGBTQ spectrum, they share one commonality, a modesty that acknowledges that for really great things to happen it takes a community.

“I only wish the car I’ll be in during the parade was large enough to contain everyone who has informed my social awareness along the way,” says Haworth. “Really, I’m just a reflection of all the incredible people who I’ve learned from.”

For Nelson, it is a similar sentiment: “I was only able to do some of these activities because I had a support network that believed in the cause which opened doors, windows and hallways that allowed the dream and opportunities to flourish. I am just one of the cogs in a much bigger machine and thrilled to be able to continue to provide visibility to our causes.”

The final grand marshal was awarded posthumously to long-time activist ted northe, who died in March at age 74.  Founder of Canada’s drag court system and the Empress of Canada of Canada title holder for many years, in his long history as an LGBTQ activist northe has been attributed with organizing Canada’s first Pride march and our country’s first gay sports league.

The 2014 Vancouver Pride Parade will take place beginning at noon on Sunday, August 3. Visit http://vancouverpride.ca for more information.

Mark Robins on Google+

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