A smiling person poses for a photo in front of brick buildings.

Khaezel Espiritu is excited for June. It’s not because the weather has finally improved after a long and dreary winter or that he’s gearing up for a summer vacation. It’s because this month will be the first time he has attended a Pride celebration.

Espiritu is a part-time social media specialist at Humber who’s also a first-year Advertising and Marketing Communications student and identifies as a gay man. In his home country of the Philippines, he said Pride was never really celebrated or even acknowledged until recently.

“This is going to be my first-ever Pride, not just at Humber, but as a gay person,” said Espiritu. “I’ve never been part of any Pride march or Pride activity in the past and I’ve always wanted to. So, I’m really excited.”

He’s circled the Toronto Pride Parade on his calendar and can’t wait to attend. Even in his home country of the Philippines, Espiritu had heard of the parade and how it brings in people from all around the world to celebrate.

Humber's LGBTQ+ Resource Centre and the Humber 2SLGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group will participate in the different parades and marches happening June 23 to June 25 as part of Toronto Pride 2023.

Making friends and connections with others from the 2SLGBTQ+ community is a big part of the Pride experience for Espiritu. As a newcomer, he has found it somewhat challenging to grow his network at times and he’s looking forward to making connections among those with shared experiences and backgrounds.

However, Pride isn’t simply an opportunity to celebrate and have fun. There’s a deeper, more powerful meaning to Espiritu.

“Pride is, in itself, a protest,” said Espiritu. “So, if you want to see progress, you have to take part in the fight. It’s important that I be there to represent and fight for my community.”

It’s liberating for Espiritu to be here in Canada and at Humber because he feels loved and accepted by the wider community. He said, back home, he felt that he was tolerated outside the 2SLGBTQ+ community for being gay rather than accepted. There were times he worried about what he was wearing or expressing himself authentically could be “too much” for some people.

“Here I don’t have to worry about that, and I can be exactly who I am,” he said. “I can bring my authentic self and I don’t feel like I have to minimize my gayness or act differently in some situations because that’s how others want me to behave.”

Espiritu also appreciates the resources and supports Humber provides to the community, including the LGBTQ+ Resource Centre. When he attended university in the Philippines, resources weren’t available.

“When I’m on campus, I feel very accepted for who I am,” he said. “I’ve never experienced any form of discrimination and I know I can walk confidently and be myself.”

Pride Month celebrations continue at Humber throughout June with events and activities including the Pride and Trans Flag raisings at North and Lakeshore campuses on June 1. More information can be found by visiting Humber’s LGBTQ events webpage.