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Fredericton Pride holds community award ceremony

Group honours straight man who stood up for a gay man

Fredericton Pride's first parade included a queer-inclusive Unitarian fellowship, university and high school students, public union workers and Rainbow Family Network founders Darcy Corey (left) and Christina Stonehouse, with their son Alex. Credit: Nick Logan photo

Fredericton Pride wrapped up last week with a community award ceremony.

Pride liaison Sarah McAdam presented an honour to Jason Tidd, a straight Fredericton man who stood up for someone being harassed outside a gay bar in Halifax last winter and, in turn, was violently attacked himself.

“If it wasn’t for Jason Tidd, there would have been one more crisis out there,” McAdam explains. “He managed to at least save the safety, and very likely save the life of the [person] he was with.”

The Pride committee originally named the award after him, but decided to give Tidd the inaugural award.

“We thought it would be best considering all he’s been through, to give him the award this year, so he can pass it on and he can choose how to help out the [queer] community.” Tidd, in response to the award, offered to teach a self-defence lesson, so someone else can protect him or herself in such a situation.

Nate Miller, Pride’s sound technician, also took home an award for his behind-the-scenes work. McAdam and Pride chair Debi Skidmore kept the surprise award a secret from the committee and volunteers.

McAdam says Pride wouldn’t succeed without Miller’s help. He was also instrumental in compiling the Just Love CD, which is being released this week and features musicians playing throughout Pride.

Sunday’s parade in the provincial capital follows years of controversy surrounding the issue, particularly the then-mayor’s refusal to declare Pride.

But Brad Woodside, in office again since 2004, says times have changed and so has he, telling the approximately 350 people gathered at a post-march festival he was proud to be there and was “there by choice.”

That remark was a reference to a 1998 ruling which ordered Woodside to declare gay pride and he made it while standing next to Allison Brewer, founder of Fredericton Lesbians and Gays, in 1979 and a former leader of the provincial New Democratic Party.

She was one of the complainants to the Human Rights Commission after Woodside declined a 1995 request for a Pride Week proclamation. “We won and we’ve been moving onwards and upwards ever since.”

“I should say onwards and outwards,” Brewer, who served as the grand marshal of the parade, says with a grin. She also shared how touched she was to be leading such an historical and emotional march.

Woodside’s stance was the catalyst for the heated community debate, but he told a CBC reporter earlier this week that he doesn’t “remember 1995 anymore.” He added he wants to focus on the current celebration of the queer community.