SIX NATIONS – After a cancellation due to threat of thunder storms, the Six Nations Pride 2016 was held indoors this year at the Six Nations Community Hall to honour Aiyanna Maracle and to coincide with Orange Shirt Day honouring all “two spirited” residential school survivors and descendants on Friday, September 30.
The room was decorated with colours of the rainbow, as vendors and information booths offered wares and information to visitors. Several local artists played live music and a meal was served and enjoyed as raffle draws were drawn throughout the night.
Maracle’s older sister Marilyn Maracle remembered when her brother Dennis became Aiyanna.
“I am Aiyanna’s older sister,” said Maracle. “She was 16 when I left home, and when I left home I left my three brothers and my three sisters. And the next time we had a family get together, it was when one of my younger sisters graduated from high school that year and then we were all split up. The next time I saw her [Aiyanna] was at my folks’ anniversary. All of a sudden, instead of three brothers and three sisters, I had two brothers and four sisters,” she said.
“And I didn’t have a problem with that,” she said. “I was 35 or 37 or whatever when I figured out I was a lesbian, and I thought ‘oh how did that happen?’ But the first thing I did was call everybody in my family and tell them about my great news. And from their reactions, I was the last one in my family to figure out that I was a lesbian,” she joked.
“Do you know how much better all of you young folks have it? I was in graduate school when I came out,” she said. “I remember when some of us used to go out and about and we’d get in a car and drive around the campus. At the time everyone would say ‘well I don’t have a problem [with your sexuality], I don’t care what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom. But we would drive around campus and see a couple walking down the road holding hands, and we would slowly get up to them and go ‘blatant heterosexuality!’ Heterosexuals have no idea how often and how much they demonstrate their sexuality, and don’t allow us the freedom to be exactly who we are. But, times have changed,” she said, adding that the younger generations will have it easier.
As though to directly agree with Maracle, Supportive Community Member Michael Elliot said this year was his first year attending but he “thinks it’s a big step forward.”.
“Especially for our community, as a lot of people are gay, lesbian, trans and what not and they’re oppressed in native communities,” said Elliot.
“[People used to be] feeling shunned or feeling pushed away, or feeling like they have to move away from the community; whereas we’re taking steps now to be more inclusive to people of all sexualities and all genders. And I think it’s really cool that we can have things like this to bring people together instead of separating each other,” he said.
Although held indoors this year, the event offered information on the LGBT Community, an enjoyable evening and a sense of communal support in coming together with pride.