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Pictures: Rory Barr for Finland Today

It was absolutely perfect weather for the Pride parade on Saturday afternoon at Helsinki center. The sun was beating down, but a gentle breeze tricked all those that weren’t smart enough to wear sunscreen that a burn was not in our future. Oh, but it was. I have been to many Pride parades in my 35 years on this planet. I love them. I well up with tears, as I am so (for lack of a better word) proud of my LGBTQ2 friends for living out loud in spite of hate. In spite of hate crimes like what happened at Pulse nightclub, the physical violence against individuals and legislation found across the globe that targets the basic rights of the LGTBQ2 community.

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The main difference between the Vancouver, Canada Pride Parade and the Helsinki Pride Parade is mindset. In Vancouver, a part of the city comes and parties with the Gay community, mostly after free candy, beads and flags. After the parade, they return home with their spoils and go back to their heterocentric lives. In Helsinki, I noticed that while there were far fewer floats of glittery go-go dancers and pretty well next to no beads and plastic whatnots tossed to the crowd, the people of Helsinki at large marched with the LGBTQ2 community. There were blended families, straight families, singles, married couples that didn’t identify as being members of the Gay community, but they marched on in solidarity. It was so moving. It is one thing to think one is a “right on” person by going to a parade, but it is quite another thing to stand up to be counted and to pledge support to their Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Two-Spirited brethren.

While there were dancing and music and fun, it was much more of a two hour, 30,000 strong march in support of basic human rights for all, regardless of how one identifies one’s self.

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