Look at this photo for a minute.
Set aside your political leaning or any complaint you have about the choices that various governments in Canada have made lately, and just look at this photo. It’s nearly impossible to imagine it being taken in any other country. Really look at it, because it was iconic the moment it was shot.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Canada’s current prime minister would make an appearance in Toronto at one of the largest gay pride parades in the world – maybe he could have dressed in a natty suit and his signature tan lace-ups, and waved to the crowd while waving the flag. That alone would have been enough to make history, to feed the news cycle and to build the Justin™ brand. Maybe even snag another GQ cover.
But, no. Appreciate what is happening in this photo. This G7 leader decided to bare his hairless chest in a salmon-pink shirt, and slip into curvy white jeans (there isn’t a straight guy alive that can pull off white jeans without irony – don’t even bother disagreeing with me), and shake his baby-maker under a high, July sun while being hosed down by a hundred water pistols wielded by all manner of race and colour along the straight, L, G, B, T, and Q spectrum. And in this picture, you can just make out the guy in the hat to the right of Trudeau’s jubilant armpit. He’s a recent émigré to Canada. A 5-foot-1, gay, HIV-positive Syrian refugee, which, if you look it up, is the definition of completely fucked back in his devastated homeland. And yet, there he is, marching and dancing next to the leader of his newly-adopted country, agog in the middle of Yonge Street.
Some might say that this is simply a picture of liberalism gone wild, or of biblical deviance, or of political opportunism. Go ahead – knock yourself out. Or, you would be partially correct to see this as a photo of a minority group celebrating a wider acceptance of its claim to humanity. It is that, and a great deal more. To look at this photo and not grasp its significance is to not only succumb to shallow, jaded and isolated thinking, but also to take for granted a level of freedom that is absurdly great in comparison to the utter bleakness in other corners of the world right now. This is a photo that says, “You have the freedom to not only feel love here, but to demonstrate it, celebrate it, sing it and shine it. Don’t squander it.”
[this article was originally posted on July 5th, 2016 and appeared at http://www.globeview.ca/look-at-this-photo-for-a-minute-trudeau-pride-2016.html.]