Fogo Is­land has pride

Fo­cus will be to cre­ate vis­i­bil­ity and stim­u­late con­ver­sa­tion

The Western Star - - CLOSE TO HOME - ADAM RAN­DELL

Hav­ing worked in dif­fer­ent ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties through­out the province as an openly out cou­ple, Trevor Taylor and Evan Par­sons, co-di­rec­tors of Fogo Is­land Pride, said they al­ways felt ac­cepted.

They have ex­pe­ri­enced that same ac­cep­tance in mov­ing to Fogo Is­land, where Taylor has been a teacher for the past four years, and Par­sons, the town’s tourism di­rec­tor.

How­ever, find­ing es­tab­lished pride com­mu­ni­ties has al­ways been dif­fi­cult.

Taylor said they al­ways talked about form­ing a pride com­mit­tee and, on May 14, they de­cided to give it a try.

The re­sponse has been one of sup­port, he said. At the in­au­gu­ral Fogo Is­land Pride meet­ing, 14 peo­ple at­tended, three iden­ti­fied as be­ing part of the LGBTQ2+ com­mu­nity, the rest were al­lies.

“It’s ex­cel­lent to have so many peo­ple backing us, rec­og­niz­ing the need for it,” said Taylor. “If we never had that sup­port we wouldn’t have even thought about do­ing this.”

Fogo Is­land Pride’s goal is to bring vis­i­bil­ity to the is­land, en­cour­age con­ver­sa­tion, host men­tal and health aware­ness sem­i­nars, and of­fer knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence to foster ed­u­ca­tion.

“The more it’s talked about, the more it be­comes ac­cepted,” said Par­sons.

Hav­ing that pres­ence, he added, helps pro­vide youth and adults with an en­vi­ron­ment that is sup­port­ive of their true selves.

“It’s build­ing a com­mu­nity that is proud, to sup­port and ad­vo­cate for each other, so they don’t have to move away to be their true selves,” Taylor said. “We never ever ex­pe­ri­enced any out­ward ag­gres­sion, we’ve al­ways been ac­cepted by a group of friends, but it just seems it is some­thing that is not talked about, it re­ally isn’t ‘nor­mal­ized’ as well in ru­ral set­tings as it has been in more ur­ban ar­eas.”

While no of­fi­cial dates have been set, the group is look­ing to hold events some­time in midAu­gust. This would be in the form of bar­be­cues, com­mu­nity hikes, flag rais­ings and pos­si­bly a dance.

“There’s no lofty plans in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture other than get­ting our­selves grounded and of­fer­ing those ex­pe­ri­ences,” he said.

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