Port aux Basques rec­og­nizes first an­nual Pride Week

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - NEWS - BY ROBYN NOSEWORTHY Robyn Noseworthy is recre­ation di­rec­tor for the Town of Chan­nel-Port Aux Basques .

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.

PEACE­FUL COM­MU­NI­TIES

The pa­rade, which be­gan at Scott’s Cove Park, ended with a bar­be­cue at Andy’s Rain­bow Park to help kick off Pride Week.

PEACE­FUL COM­MU­NI­TIES

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.

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