In a first, Sikh leads gay pride parade in Canada with PM Trudeau

Sunday was a big day for the Indo-Canadian LGBT community as the Vancouver Pride Parade was led by Alex Sangha, the first-ever Sikh to be the grand marshal of an event of this nature.
Alex Sangha was the first-ever Sikh to be the grand marshal of a gay pride parade, in Vancouver, Canada(HT Photo)
Alex Sangha was the first-ever Sikh to be the grand marshal of a gay pride parade, in Vancouver, Canada(HT Photo)
Updated on Aug 02, 2016 04:33 PM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times | By, Toronto

Sunday was a big day for the Indo-Canadian LGBT community as the Vancouver Pride Parade was led by Alex Sangha, the first-ever Sikh to be the grand marshal of an event of this nature. While the appearance of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – the first person in his office to take part – raised the parade’s profile higher, just as significant for the community was the presence of Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan.

Sangha, who was in driven along the parade route in a car painted in the colours of the rainbow, was its Role Model Grand Marshal. He told Hindustan Times after the march, “It was amazing. It’s very meaningful to see a brown person leading the Parade. That sent a message of diversity within the queer community.”

Sangha, who runs Sher Vancouver, a non-profit that works on LGBT issues within the community, is a resident of Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver and also the unofficial capital of the Sikh population in Canada. In that sense, his presence was particularly symbolic as the matter of homosexuality remains “taboo within the Sikh community,” as he pointed out. “You need role models in this world,” he said.

That made Sajjan’s participation at the parade important. The Minister tweeted images of walking with the crowds, noting: “Excited to be marching in #Vancouver Pride today. We’re #Forever Proud.”

“Sajjan is in a prominent situation. He’s a role model for the community. This makes the work I do easier; it’s easier when we see these high-profile leaders,” Sangha said, referring to his outreach and activism on gay issues within the community.

Sangha was driven in the special Pride car at the head of the parade, surrounded by supporters of Sher Vancouver and other participants. Trudeau joined the march later. “It’s really interesting it took till 2016 for a prime minister to march in our parade. Things are changing, times are changing,” Sangha said. Trudeau had also marched in Toronto’s Pride Parade last month, becoming the first Canadian Prime Minister to attend that event as well.

This year’s Pride parade in Vancouver wasn’t without controversy. The Black Lives Matter movement boycotted the parade due to the participation of Vancouver’s police force in the celebration, and that led other groups like Salaam, consisting of gay Muslims, and Trikone, a South Asian group, to also withdraw. But Sangha was not fazed by their protests: “Yes, there is racism in the queer community. But there needs to be solidarity, we need to work together,” he said.

Most importantly, he may have blazed a trail for Sikhs in the country as he piloted the Pride car.


    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Image for representation only.

    US CDC publishes guidelines on monkeypox vaccine. Details here

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday published recommendations by its group of independent experts on a smallpox vaccine that limit its use to only people who work closely with viruses such as monkeypox. The publication of the vote by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which took place in November last year, formalizes the recommendations.

  • Tesla chief Elon Musk. 

    US SEC looking into Musk's Twitter stake purchase

    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk's disclosure of his stake in Twitter Inc in early April, according to a letter the agency sent to him that month. Musk was offered a board seat shortly after his initial disclosure and has since gone on to attempt to buy the company outright in a $44 billion deal to take it private. An SEC spokesperson declined to comment.

  • A person holds pictures of victims of the Texas shooting as they protest against gun laws outside the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual convention in Houston, Texas.

    Texas shooting: Cops took 45 minutes to confront gunman, kids kept calling 911

    Nearly 20 officers stood in a hallway outside of the classrooms during this week's attack on a Texas elementary school for more than 45 minutes before agents used a master key to open a door and confront a gunman, authorities said Friday.

  • Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan,

    Watch: Imran Khan storms out of presser, his fans & critics fight on Twitter

    Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan on Friday stormed out of a press conference in Peshawar after he was questioned by a journalist on his party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf's role in the social media, Pakistan website Geo TV reported. This comes a day after the former prime minister and several senior leaders were booked for arson and vandalism in Islamabad during Azadi March.

  • An employee of the vaccine company Bavarian Nordic shows a picture of a vaccine virus on a display in a laboratory of the company in Martinsried near Munich, Germany

    Monekypox spreads to over 20 nations; Global tally nears 200: Full list here

    More than 20 countries across the globe have reported detections of Monkeypox cases so far taking the total tally to nearly 200, the World Health Organisation. It had reported its first infection on May 18. Canada: Canada has a total of 25 infections of Monkeypox. Spain: The European nation has so far logged 84 cases of disease. The number saw a significant rise on May 26 when the country logged 25 cases.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Saturday, May 28, 2022