Loud and proud

Work still to be done in fight against ho­mo­pho­bia

Sackville Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - BY KATIE TOWER SACKVILLE TRI­BUNE- POST

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.

KATIE TOWER – SACKVILLE TRI­BUNE- POST

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.

KATIE TOWER – SACKVILLE TRI­BUNE- POST

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.

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