The following is a Letter to the Editor published in the June 28th edition of the Minden Times.
Celebrate Loud and Proud
To the Editor,
All around the world, Pride month draws to a close this long weekend celebrating the S2LGBTQ+ community. Minden Pride kicks off our own local festival this year August 22-28th, with the theme of Loud and Proud in 2022.
Over the past seven years Minden Pride has grown to be one of the largest cultural festivals in the county celebrating equality, diversity, and inclusiveness. We have successfully engaged community leaders to promote awareness and respect for S2LGBTQ+ people. Gaining the support of over 60 local businesses, we have built a dedicated following. We have taken part in many neighbourhood events and have increased our visibility exponentially. We are so proud that we have made a difference within our county; whether it comes in the form of welcoming smiles at a local farmers’ market, waving to us on our Pride float in the Santa Claus parades, or the high school inviting us to join with their students in their very first Pride week celebrations. We are very grateful for the goodwill we have experienced from our chosen community.
But this year, we feel a sense of unease, as reports of homophobic occurrences seem to escalate in a climate of fear and distrust. Hate crimes against the S2LGBTQ+ community persist even in our own backyard with rainbow flags removed or destroyed, or Pride events being threatened in small towns across Ontario. Far more insidious are the violent incidents happening around the globe: Norway, 20 gay people targeted and shot while out for a drink on a summer night; in Poland 100 municipalities declared LGBT-free zones: and next door in the U.S., more than 300 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in state legislatures this year alone.
In over 70 countries around the world being queer is criminalized, or worse yet, a death sentence. Last year, we raised over ten thousand dollars toward Rainbow Railroad, an organization committed to helping support people fleeing oppression and violence.
Our own Minden Pride was started out of homophobic actions right here in the county. The unhappy truth is that even in Canada, one of the world’s most open countries, a segment of our society does not support the queer community – people who, just like all Canadians, want to live their lives openly and truthfully in happiness, without fear.
In response to the escalation of anti-queer tensions, we are reminded that Pride cannot be just about parties or feel-good rainbow colours. We must remember that Pride’s power comes from the politics of struggle, a movement begun as a protest. We must continue to call out hatred against those trying to live truthful lives. We must continue to be a viable part of the community. We must persist in being able to live our lives in peace.
This year we are asking for support from you, our Haliburton County friends and neighbours, as we continue to face down, and fight back against extremism and negativity with expressions of love and goodwill.
Please join us at Minden Pride in the Haliburton Highlands.
Chair – Minden Pride