Port aux Basques recognizes first annual Pride Week
Pride Week is not just for fancy parties, and its not about walking through the streets with your sexuality seeping through every pore. Pride Week is not about making people uncomfortable; it’s an opportunity to bring certain subjects to light and allow people to come out of the shadows of their own fears.
Pride Week is political, it is humanizing, it has its place, and it found itself for the first time in Channel Port Aux Basques last week.
This was the first time this type of event, or celebration, or even discussion happened in this community in a public forum.
It was also the first time subjects were brought up and discussed in a safe environment, where questions could be asked and answered, and people could come together and see each other as individuals.
There are still children being disowned and left to fend for themselves with no resources and no one to turn to. There are still families being torn apart by religious differences, social stigmas or fear of the unknown. There are still mental health issues that arise from being isolated and shamed for being one’s own person. We don’t need to look very far to see that discrimination and bigotry are still extremely prevalent in our schools, communities, province, and in our country. We are not alone in that, as it is still seen around the world.
Last week Gemma Hickey won an important case in Supreme Court when it came to gender identity and legal documentation. This was predicated by Ky Rees, who just last year fought a battle for the ability to change gender markers on driver’s licenses without requiring surgery.
While these cases may stir confusion in some and anger in others, one must realize one’s safety in public and to our own selves is where the basis of this stands.
Pride began on the backs of those who sacrificed and were beaten by government and the officials who represent them.
Over time we have seen significant changes in policies and law. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms now has protections in place for LBGT people. School boards are training their teachers to include LBGT anti-bullying awareness (something that wasn’t previously entered within their program up until a couple of years ago).
Communities are painting crosswalks to show acceptance of those who bring diversity and empathy to their towns.
All of this is significant. Newfoundland and Labrador actually leads the way in a lot of these social changes.
We were the first to retrain teachers in North America. We were the first to have an openly gay politician. We were the first to raise the flag in solidarity with LBGT athletes in Russia in 2014. This is huge for a place with lower populations with a reputation for being conservative.
Yet, statistics still run rampant. Pride this past week was about letting those who live here, and those who used to live here, know they are welcome, they will be protected as any other citizen, and we embrace our differences.
Diversity makes communities strong. New ideas and perspectives allow for growth.
With a week of events slated, two events stood out aside from the proclamation and flag raising: the educational webinar and the parade. We had four brilliant speakers come forth and share their experiences, talk about their difficulties, and emerge with positive messages of love and acceptance.
Ailsa Craig, a sociology professor at Memorial University, was one of them. They said something that struck a chord; don’t be an ally, be an accomplice. In other words, don’t just be there, be involved. Don’t be afraid for others who are LBGT – help them, through actions, realize they are not alone and there are people willing to fight for them.
I think Channel Port Aux Basques did just that last week. We opened our doors, and our minds, and our mouths… and we talked. We showed up when needed, and we walked together.
With all the rainbow references in this community, it goes without saying you have been ready for this for a long time.
As an outsider to your community, I am not only pleased, but honored to have been involved in these events of the past week. The youth in this community are grateful they have visibility and have been shown they are important, contributing members of your community who will be protected and respected as all other citizens.
May this be the first of many Pride Weeks in Channel Port Aux Basques. Let us we grow together. Let us be stronger than we were yesterday, and more fearless tomorrow, than we were today.
Let us live up to our reputation as the Gateway to Newfoundland and Labrador, and more importantly, a gateway to acceptance for all people no matter their sexuality or gender.
The parade, which began at Scott’s Cove Park, ended with a barbecue at Andy’s Rainbow Park to help kick off Pride Week.
Port aux Basques celebrated its first ever Pride Week with a variety of events, starting with the raising of the pride flag at town hall and a parade down Main Street.