Xtra reporter Andrea Houston has been named the 2012 honoured dyke for the Pride Toronto Dyke March on June 30.
Houston, who joined Xtra in 2010 after previously working for the Peterborough Examiner and Toronto Star, was honoured for her reporting on the issue of gay-straight alliances (GSAs), which culminated with the passage of Bill 13 on June 5.
Pride Toronto co-chair Luka Amona explained the selection: “[Houston] really leveraged her role as a reporter to ask the right questions, galvanize the community together and provide support for youth leaders.” He adds that Houston fits the criteria for an individual who “provides significant contributions to advancing or providing a service to the community or human rights to the community.”
Houston says she was “thrilled and truly honoured” by the news. “It’s a dream come true — a dream I didn’t even know I was dreaming about. I would never have imagined a couple years ago, if you said to me I would be honoured dyke; I would have thought you were crazy.”
On June 30 Houston will lead the parade in that role, one which makes her part of Pride’s history.
Last year’s honoured dyke was high schooler Leanne Iskander, the student who became the public face of the fight to mandate GSAs in Ontario Catholic schools. Iskander says Houston is a great selection and adds that she played a crucial role in ensuring students across Ontario could form support groups with names of their choosing.
“I don’t think we would have made this progress without her reporting. She stuck to the story the whole time,” says Iskander, who will begin studying history at York University in the fall. “She’s always been there to support us, supporting the queer community.”
Houston says she visualized a map of Ontario with red dots representing parts the province where students were being denied GSAs. “You try to right a wrong, hammering at it as a reporter.”
While she was often the only journalist covering the story, Houston wasn’t the only person working on the issue. The grand marshals for the Pride parade on July 1 will be Cheri DiNovo, the NDP MPP for Parkdale-High Park, who championed Toby’s Act into legislation, and Laurel Broten, the Liberal Party’s education minister, who worked on Bill 13.
Women’s Health in Women’s Hands has been named the honoured group for its work facilitating peer-to-peer community support.
Houston says, “It’s wonderful to be recognized by such an incredible group of powerful and wicked queer women.”