The Pride Flag is flying high in West Nipissing.
Kicking off Pride Month, West Nipissing Pride(WN Pride) along with community dignitaries, local students, and a crowd of supporters raised the flag at noon today (June 1).
“We’re here to give a positive presentation of queerness and start the conversation at home,” said Michel Gervais with WN Pride.
“[To] educate the community about what it is to be queer and aid in providing services in the area. In short, we aim to be a vessel in showing who are allies are in the community. Our goal is to promote community inclusion, and awareness of sexuality and gender diversity, and be a sense of community and safe spaces for LGBTQ2S+ individuals, their families, and their allies,” shared Gervais.
Gervais said although there’s more work to do, he’s proud to see the positive change that has happened since the inception of WN Pride.
“I hope one day people don’t have to fight for acceptance at home, school or out in the community,” shared Gervais. “Whether it’s at the grocery or simply walking on the street. […] I’ve been yelled slurs in Sturgeon, and I’ve had things put on my car, just for existing as a queer person here, as recently as a month ago. This year’s climate has shifted. The world stage has not been kind to queer people.”
“If this rapid change has shown one thing, it’s that our people desperately need to be protected, supported and more than ever our allies need to unapologetically speak out in our defence,” said Gervais.
Kathleen Thorne Rochon, West Nipissing Mayor, also offered a few words.
“I am so moved by the work WN Pride has made in the short time they’ve been active. Their organization allows people in our community, who may have previously felt alone and isolated, to recognize their importance in West Nipissing and to feel like they do belong here,” said the Mayor.
It is the fourth annual Pride Flag raising in the community. An inaugural parade is scheduled for June 10.