/Pride and pandemic: How Minden Pride is going virtual 
David Rankin Shane Ferrao David Woodard and Rick Pereira at Minden Pride 2019's Pretty In Pink Tea Dance at the Dominion Hotel in Minden. /Photo submitted by David Rankin

Pride and pandemic: How Minden Pride is going virtual 

By Zachary Roman

This year marks the fifth for Minden Pride – a cause for celebration. Thechair of Minden Pride David Rankin was hoping to work with theanniversary and make this year’s Pride the biggest and best one yet.Unfortunately due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic an in-person Prideis no longer a possibility.
While it was a disappointment for Rankin and the Minden Pride committee when they realized that Pride as Mindenknows it could no longer happen this year it isn’t going to stop themfrom preparing for an awesome week of events online.

“We’re lookingat building on what had already been quite a successful year last year” said Rankin. “We had a lot of publicity our attendance at events hasgrown exponentially. We’re very pleased with where we’re going.”
This year Minden Pride has added a suffix to its name. It will now be known as Minden Pride in the Haliburton Highlands and is in the process ofmaking a new logo to reflect this change – a change being made tohighlight that Minden Pride has welcomed and will continue to welcomepeople from the entire county and beyond.

Minden Pride also had toadjust the ways in which they raise funds for this year in light ofCOVID-19 challenges. “As a committee we made a decision that we werenot going to seek sponsorship from [local] businesses because we knewthat they’re undergoing significant financial pressure” said Rankin.“We do have some access to some government funding and so we will belooking at relying on that … items that we previously exchanged fordonation such as our T-shirts we’re looking at expanding some of those so that we can still have fundraising to help defray some of our costsand help us to move forward for hopefully a very social Minden Pridein 2021 as well.”

The Minden Pride committee is entirely volunteerbased. Rankin said that Minden Pride has a great volunteer base outsideof the committee as well. Unfortunately due to COVID-19 Minden Pridehasn’t been able to meet with them yet which has been a challenge since they like to stay engaged with their volunteers some who havesupported them from the very beginning.
“Pride in Haliburton County… started off as a statement about [things occurring] that we were not happy with” said Rankin. That same courage to take a stand is whathelped kickstart the modern Pride movement and is as important as everin today’s society.

“There has always been a little bit of a rockyrelationship with the LGBTQ community and the general community. Andthat’s why Pride exists. Pride came out of a riot much like what yousee now happening with Black Lives Matter. You have to make a str ongstance you have to let your message be very clear. And you have tostand up when we hear things that are contradictory to what we believeis right” said Rankin. “It really was a riot – and they are called theStonewall Riots – I only point that out because I think it’s significant [for people] to understand to what level the frustration ofdiscrimination has reached.”

The Stonewall Riots began in the earlyhours of the morning on June 28 1969 in response to a police raid onthe Stonewall Inn a popular gay bar in New York City. It was a nightlyhome to some of the poorest and most marginalized members of the LGBTQ+community. On that night resistance to the police’s violent anddiscriminatory treatment of bar patrons happened organically a response to years of oppression. Lesbians and trans women of colour were some of the key people involved in the acts of resistance including StorméDeLarverie Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. The June 28 riot turned into days of resistance and was a catalyst for modern LGBTQ+ movementsaround the world.

Rankin said that Minden Pride has always been acelebration of Pride and the LGBTQ+ community – and that it became verysocial. With a laugh Rankin noted that a virtual Pride is just notquite the same in terms of the socializing element. “But we’re going to be able to do something. That’s really the bottom line for us” saidRankin. “We are pleased that we’ll be able to … let people know thatwe’re here for them and that there’s still a voice for the LGBTQcommunity in Haliburton Highlands.”

Rankin said the Minden Pridecommittee is focused on the virtual event and is trying to figure outwhich events will work successfully and how to stage them. They haveslowly been announcing that Pride will be happening one way or anotherbut hope to soon be able to announce specific events.
Rankin saidthat one of the key elements of Minden Pride is the flag raising and for this year’s virtual Minden Pride it will be no different. “We’relooking at being able to put that on to have that taped and perhaps tohave some acknowledgement and some entertainment that can be madeavailable” said Rankin. “We are also looking at having a movie night …we’re looking at a trivia night we’ve been speaking within thereligious community about doing a multi-faith service.”

At MindenPride’s past multi-faith services which have been held at churchesaround Minden representatives from different faiths have come to talkabout how their faith intersects with Pride and the LGBTQ+ community. “A lot of the different religious organizations have been quite welcomingand very nicely been reaching out to us around what they can do to helpsupport especially with SIRCH” said Rankin. “When we announced that we were going to go virtual they said that they could certainly help inmaintaining that presence that they’ve had which was quite nice news for us.”

Rankin always makes sure the communities that Minden Prideinteracts with are positive and supportive. Even with communities who in the past may not have not had a full understanding of the LGBTQcommunity Rankin hopes that by working with them now they can helpfoster a better understanding.
“Much like what you are hearing nowwith the Black Lives Matter movement people are saying you need tolisten. And that’s really as well what we want. And I think that’swhat’s happened” said Rankin. “We’ve been very pleased to see how thedifferent faiths are listening to the LGBTQ community and areunderstanding who we are.”

Rankin said that in Minden and in thecounty at large there has been a positive relationship between thecommunity and Pride. “There are a few business in Minden who in honourof [June] being Pride Month have some merchandise available thatreflects that” said Rankin. “So that’s quite pleasing to see that thecommunity itself is embracing Pride and that’s really quite positive for us.”
While things may be different this year for Minden PrideRankin wants the community to know that they aren’t going anywhere. “Weliterally are very happy that we’re going to be able to put on Pridethis year even if it is virtual” said Rankin. “That’s really themessage. We’re pleased that we can have a presence within the communityand support the community and let them know that we’re here.”