/‘Why we need Pride’
Bob Fisher shows off his brightest outfit choices at the Minden Pride flag raising. /Justin VanLieshout special to the Times

‘Why we need Pride’

By Emily Stonehouse

It’s here. The one week of the year where we drape rainbows from the flagpoles and spend a little extra time celebrating love. 

It’s supposed to be a time of joy, a time of inclusion, a time of progress. 

But this year, a dark cloud is looming over the upcoming week. 

“A number of negative social media messages have been posted toward Minden Pride,” said Pride Chair Allan Guinan. “Certainly there is a sentiment that some are tired of the exposure we receive.”

While the Pride committee – a group of dedicated volunteers from across the county – are no strangers to backlash, Guinan said that this year seems to be filled with more negativity than has been seen in previous years.

“I think some of this negativity is based on the ongoing rhetoric from the U.S.,” said Guinan, when asked about why this year has been raising more concerns than others. “And with social media, people think they can just say anything or do anything. But it’s hard to understand why people would be so passionate about this.” 

Minden Pride is going into its eighth year, and has grown in both size and recognition in that  time. It is now one of the largest festivals in Haliburton County, with a full week of music, art, shows, and celebrations. Each year, the committee dedicates itself to finding a variety of programming that people of all ages would enjoy, and feel a part of. 

But the committee doesn’t limit themselves to one week. They spend the remainder of the year planning social events and opportunities for members of the 2SLGBTQ+ and allies to get to know one another; a task sometimes daunting in rural communities. 

One particular program that continued to be targeted at Pride Festivals not just locally, but across the map, is Drag Storytime. “We will have a police presence at our Drag Storytimes this year,” said Guinan, “and we are just hopeful that there will be no incidents.” 

Guinan also believes that Street Fest has a risk of being more vulnerable, based on the events happening on the main roads in Minden. 

This year, the Pride committee has dealt with their flags being torn down throughout the downtown core, their banner cut from the Loggers Bridge and held down at the bottom of the river with rocks, and a series of angry comments, accusations, and homophobic slurs on their social media platforms. 

Pride Week kicked off on Aug. 21 with the Flag Raising at the Minden Township office, where colourful groups gathered to celebrate. Speeches were made by Guinan, MP Jamie Schmale, County Warden Liz Danielsen, and Minden Hills Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell. 

The principal of Haliburton Highlands Secondary School Jenn Mills joined the podium to make a speech about Pride as well. She shared that last year, the Minden Pride committee partnered with HHSS to offer their first full Pride Week at the school, where students ran a series of activities and events catered around inclusivity and celebrating individuality. Mills referenced the fact that she herself attended Hal High, “and I know we have come a long way since then,” she said. “What you do makes a difference.” 

The theme for this year’s Pride is “Love is love is love” in response to the backlash the event has received over the past year. “We have to counter all this hate with as much positivity as possible,” said Guinan. 

Guinan noted that the backlash acts as a reminder for the history of Pride. “This demonstrates that there is a certain amount of homophobia that does still exist here,” he said, “and that is why we need Pride.” 

The full list of all Minden Pride events this week, as well as community events held over the year, are available at www.mindenpride.ca or by following their social media channels.