Loud and proud
Work still to be done in fight against homophobia
It was a celebration of diversity and acceptance in Sackville last Friday afternoon as the town and university communities came together once again to host a Pride Parade and raise the rainbow flag to help mark Pride Week.
The event attracted well over 200 people who came out dressed in their rainbow colours to celebrate, raise awareness and show support for the 2SLGBTQA+ community.
It also shone a light on how far society has come in the fight against homophobia; but also served as a reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done on that front.
Melody Petlock, Mount Allison’s SHARE (Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Education Service) advisor, said she is proud to be part of a university and a town that welcomes all members of the rainbow community.
She said events like these are shining examples of the work that has been done to bring sexuality issues “out of the closet and into the light.” But she cautioned people must remain vigilant in those efforts.
“We must all be allies,” said Petlock.
Standing up for others, showing respect, continuing to ask questions and educating ourselves, and defending what is right – these are all measures we can take to continue to support each other, said Petlock.
A highlight of this year’s event was the attendance of special guest speaker Scott Jones, a former Mount Allison student and Pride advocate.
Jones – a musician, educator and activist – was viciously attacked outside a bar in his hometown of New Glasgow, N.S. in October 2013. Stabbed in the back and his throat slashed, Jones was left paralyzed from the attack, believed to be motivated by homophobia.
Jones said his years at Mount Allison was when he became open about his sexuality and it was a time he felt safe.
“This was a place I could truly be myself.”
Being in the Mount Allison “bubble,” Jones said students can sometimes forget there is a crazy world out there.
“I didn’t really feel there was a need to fight for gay rights because I felt safe here.”
That all changed, however, upon his return to his hometown when he was struck down by his attacker.
“That catapulted me into the work I’m doing now, and the need to use this trauma as a source of change.”
Jones has travelled across Canada to speak to students and faculty in universities, schools and community centres, and in 2014, he was awarded the Nova Scotia Human Rights Award for his advocacy.
“Take a moment and remember where we started,” Jones told the crowd. “Do all that you can to be an ally. And do all that you can to elevate the voices or speak out for our most vulnerable.”
Following the raising of the flag on the Mount Allison campus, participants paraded down York Street and Main Street to town hall, where another rainbow flag was raised. This was followed by live music and refreshments.
This is the seventh year the town of Sackville has hosted a rainbow flag raising ceremony in conjunction with Pride Week, and the fourth year for the Pride Parade.
More than 200 people from the Sackville and Mount Allison communities joined together for the town’s fourth annual Pride Parade last Friday afternoon. Many came out dressed in rainbow colours and carrying signs to show their support and celebrate the 2SLGBTQA+ community.
Scott Jones, a former Mount Allison student and Pride advocate, served as guest speaker for Friday’s Pride events, which included a Pride parade and flag-raising ceremonies. Jones was paralyzed after he was attacked outside a bar in New Glasgow, N.S. in 2013, an attack believed to be motivated by homophobia.