When Bill Staubi first came out, he stood on the corner of Laurier and Bank streets watching the Pride Parade on a rainy day in 2000. It was his first public experience being out after leaving his marriage, and he spotted a proud co-worker in the parade.
The following Monday at work, she asked him what he did that weekend. He told her honestly. Pride was his vehicle for being out and proud at work.
It’s no wonder then that Staubi is donating more than $1,000 to Pride this year. He hasn’t decided on an exact amount because he wants to motivate the community. “If someone were to throw a party and raise money, I could match it,” says Staubi with enthusiasm.
He’s open to ideas and doesn’t want to just write a cheque. Staubi wants to get the ball rolling for donations. It’s clear that the City of Ottawa will not support our community, so if we want to show them that we’re still proud we have to support ourselves, he says.
“Capital Xtra went ahead and did something, so I decided to do the same.
“It’s important to me personally and as a member of the community and a citizen of Ottawa. What would it say to gays and lesbians across the country if their capital city doesn’t have a Pride celebration? Unless they’d like to move the capital to Toronto.”
The bill for Pride Toronto is around $20 million, so $20,000 seemed like a modest request.
Staubi is saddened and disappointed by the city’s apathy but refuses to be discouraged. Pride must go on, he says.
“It’s time for people to step forward and show the city of Ottawa that we’re serious about this festival, that it means something to us,” says Staubi.
He works as a senior manager and executive in the federal government and has been involved in a number of organizations and groups, including PTS, the Wilde about Sappho festival, and planning for the new community centre.
As part of his workplace diversity committee, he has organized an information fair at work during Pride for the last two years.
“If the city doesn’t take any pride in its gay and lesbian community, how can you promote diversity and respect at work?”
He knows it’s important not to give up and for gays and lesbians to stay visible.
“I’d like to use this as an opportunity to challenge and excite people about giving,” says Staubi, who is convinced that lots of people in our community have money to donate. He says that those who can’t need to band together and volunteer for this cause.
Sue Dunton, 43, salutes the work of the volunteers at Pride and shares Staubi’s sentiment.
Her contribution is much smaller, but is nonetheless a contribution.
“Help them help you!” she says. “We should give ourselves a chance.”
Pride President Darren Fisher is thrilled with the outpouring of community support once people realized Pride might not happen. “To not have Pride would be devastating,” says Fisher. “But we are! So let’s celebrate and thank those amazing people who are donating.”
He knows there are lots of causes that people can donate to, but Pride isn’t just a small group of people. It’s about the entire community and the groups within it.
“Donating even just a small amount still helps put Pride on stable ground again,” he says. “Let’s move past all the negativity coming from councillors and celebrate our 20th anniversary.”
It’s also the first year Pride has bounced back from such jeopardy. The bottom line, politics aside, is that Pride is happening and needs as much support as you can give.