By Vivian Collings
Many Pride events were formed in an act of replacing hate and violence with love and celebration.
Minden Pride followed suit.
It is a welcome place for all to feel safe and celebrated in the community, but was formed by local community members following the tragic shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida in 2016 where 49 people were killed and many more injured.
At the same time, a local storefront in Haliburton Village faced homophobic vandalism.
These two events proved that, even with a lengthy Pride history in the country, visibility, solidarity, and acceptance is always needed.
“I think visibility is incredibly important to any community. Growing up, it was in the 90s when I was coming to terms with my sexuality, and I grew up in a small town in northern British Columbia and didn’t really have or see anyone else who was like me. I felt very, very alone and just scared,” said Minden Pride committee member Reed Sacharoff. “I think it’s just great for small towns in general to be getting a little bit of exposure to different people, different cultures, different backgrounds, and showcasing that and letting people know that it’s okay to be different.”
Minden Pride has grown since it was formed seven years ago, but their mission remains the same.
“Our mandate is to provide an opportunity for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies to celebrate our culture, heritage, and diversity by nurturing a safe community for LGBTQ2+ people of all ages,” states the Minden Pride website.
This year, Minden Pride is featuring 12 events in Haliburton County from Monday, Aug. 22 to Sunday, Aug. 28.
“I do believe that with every year, Pride continues to get bigger and better. It has truly become a community event that we are seeing so many businesses want to get involved with, and interest seems to continue to grow. The amount of support and interest from community partners and local businesses is outstanding,” said Minden Pride committee member Emily Stonehouse.
This year, one of the events included in the lineup is the Toolbelts and Tiaras Tea Dance this Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The event is an ode to the tea dances of the 1950s and 1960s that became popular among the LGBTQ2+ community when there were laws in North America and England against same-sex dance partners.
In New York, police would raid any establishment serving alcohol to or allowing those in the LGBTQ2+ community to dance.
To avoid attracting the attention of authorities, organizers instead chose to serve tea and hold the dances between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday afternoons.
Note: Per National Geographic, prior to the 1990s lesbian, gay and bisexual activists adopted the LGB acronym, which has since expanded to LGBTQ2+ to be more inclusive.
Over the rainbow
This year’s Minden Pride festivities were initiated on Monday, Aug. 22 with a rainbow flag raising at the Minden Hills Municipal Office.
“It’s wild seeing the number of rainbow flags and everything you see in town right now. I think it’s important for people to know there are other people like them around. The visibility is incredibly important, even when people are still unsure of who they are,” Sacharoff said.
The rainbow flag, also known as the pride flag, was designed by artist Gilbert Baker in 1978.
Baker was an openly-gay drag queen and was asked by Harvey Milk, the first openly-gay man to be elected for office in California, if he would design a symbol for the LGBTQ2+ community.
The colours in the flag were meant to represent a community of people from different races, ages, and genders.
A new symbol was needed to promote inclusivity and celebration, as the only symbol for the community up until the 1970s was the “pink triangle.” The triangle was used by Nazis during the Holocaust to shame and identify those in the LGBTQ2+ community.
The rainbow flag was also said to have been inspired by Judy Garland’s singing of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in the Wizard of Oz.
The rainbow flag has proved to withstand the test of time, and continues to be the universal symbol of Pride.
The first one was raised on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in 2016.
Historical pride events in Canada
Up until 1973, homosexuality was stated as a “disorder” in the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders.
In 1974, the “Brunswick Four” were arrested from the Brunswick Tavern in Toronto, and the lesbians faced violence from officers.
This was one of the first times in Canada that people in the LGBTQ2+ community received coverage by the press.
In 1979, Vancouver and Montreal hosted the first official Pride festivals in Canada, followed by Edmonton in 1980.
Police arrested 300 men from four gay bathhouses in Toronto on the same day in 1981, making it one of the largest mass arrests in the country. The protests held in retaliation to these senseless arrests formed into the first Toronto Pride celebration.
In 1990, only 33 years ago, the World Health Organization finally removed homosexuality from being declared a “mental disorder.”
Sexual orientation was added to the Canadian Human Rights Act in 1996.
In 2000, Bill C-23 was introduced and later passed to allow same-sex couples the same common-law benefits as opposite-sex couples.
In 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world to allow same-sex marriage.
Inclusivity in Minden
Minden Pride is a not-for-profit organization in Haliburton County that aims to promote inclusivity by carrying on the legacy of other Canadian Pride organizers that came before.
Sacharoff is the owner of the Wolf Moon Shop on Newcastle Street in Minden, and recently moved to the area at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The business owner joined Minden Pride to not only be able to use a background in digital marketing to benefit the organization, but also to be part of an accepting community of people.
“I grew up in a small town, and I wanted somewhere that was definitely similar, but not too far from the city, but still had a pretty great arts community. I do feel like I ended up in a great location. I feel like I’m finding my community here,” Sacharoff said. “All the products [for the Wolf Moon Shop] are coming from brands that are led by either BIPOC, LGBTQ2+, or female and small businesses, and being queer myself, it just seemed like a really natural fit to be working with them.”
The first thing Sacharoff did as a committee member was create the “let’s get” campaign for Minden Pride which included teaser postcards and a video.
Stonehouse joined the committee to be able to share her social media expertise and to work with other creative people.
“I will be involved with as many events as I can this year, and encourage everyone to come out and enjoy as many as they can. From a comedy night to a float down the Gull, there is truly something for everyone, and it’s a fantastic environment for people to feel welcome and truly just be themselves in every way.”
More information about this week’s Minden Pride events can be found at mindenpride.ca.