This week marks the third annual Minden Pride a celebration of inclusion and diversity that began as a picnic two summers ago and has blossomed into a weeklong series of events.
Things kicked off Monday morning with a raising of the rainbow flag outside the Minden Hills township office and will conclude with a street festival along Water Street on Sunday afternoon.
Pride celebrations are held in many communities across Ontario and Canada at this point in time Toronto’s the largest and most famous. It’s likely Minden is among the smallest communities to host its own pride celebration something residents can be proud of. Certainly I’ve heard remarks from residents of larger cities who are surprised that Minden as small as it is and in such a traditionally conservative area has a pride event at all. It remains the only community in Haliburton County to host such a celebration each year and thank you to the organizers for all their work.
But behind the joviality of the occasion it’s important to recall why it’s held in the first place. While Canada may be considered one of the world’s most gay-friendly countries recall that not so long ago a matter of a few decades homosexual activity was still against the law in this country.
“There is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation” then-justice minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau famously said as he introduced reforms to modernize Canada’s criminal code in 1967.
It was just 13 years ago that Canada became the fourth country in the world and the first outside of Europe to legalize same-sex marriage. However we all know that socially homophobic attitudes and language are often displayed in our culture and we are likely still a long way from seeing those bigoted attitudes vanquished completely.
Instances of homophobic violence still occur frequently around the world and there are still a number of countries where homosexuality is not only illegal but punishable by death or where people particularly men caught in homosexual acts are subject to atrocities such as flogging and stoning.
Think about the brutality of that.
Aside from the international political statement of a pride celebration it also sends a reassuring and comforting message to any local people especially young ones who may be struggling with their sexuality or struggling to tell their family and friends about it.
The rainbow flags draped around Minden this week are hopefully a sign to everyone that they live in an inclusive and supportive community.