PALMERSTON – The Town of Minto’s first Pride in the Park picnic drew a crowd to Lions Heritage Park here on July 13.
The event featured a barbecue, games, face painting and a march through the park, culminating in the unfurling of a pride flag from the landmark pedestrian railway bridge.
Mayor George Bridge thanked the Minto Pride committee for organizing the event through the Town of Minto Cultural Roundtable.
“I sit on that committee and when they came with the idea, everybody was very supportive,” said Bridge.
“It just makes me feel really good to see a crowd turn out like this for all the hard work they put in.
“We’re very inclusive here, we feel, in Minto, but we haven’t always been that way,” Bridge told the crowd.
“It’s great to see such an amazing crowd out here today,” agreed Perth-Wellington MP John Nater.
“It does show how inclusive Minto is, how welcoming Minto is to a diversity of people.
“To the LGBTQ community and everyone involved today, I want to thank you for hosting this … and I think it’s a great day for inclusiveness, for diversity, for a welcoming community.”
Guest speaker Chad Tailor, a Toronto filmmaker who grew up in Minto, said, “It fills my heart with joy to see that our community is finally giving us some acceptance, some transparency, where we can come out, we can be who we are.”
He added, “Pride’s been evolving for years. I mean, 1969 is when being gay was decriminalized … 50 years later, we are here in rural Ontario, we’re still wanting to be heard, we’re still wanting transparency in our community and to feel safe, to just be accepted for who we are.”
Tailor said he hopes the event is a first step toward more openness and acceptance in the local community.
“There’s a difference between tolerance and acceptance, and all it takes is just a little compassion,” he stated.
“For me pride is not just about a flag, it’s not just about a party and it’s not something to celebrate once a year.
“It’s something that I celebrate every day. I celebrate it by walking down the street without any fear that I’ll get slurs yelled at me.”
He added, “I celebrate it by holding my partner’s hand. I celebrate it by being here today; up here giving a voice for people who are too afraid to speak, too afraid to come out in their communities – and it shouldn’t be that way.
“We all deserve equal rights.
“We all deserve to be free and to feel safe – and all it takes is a little compassion.”
Organizers estimate about 200 people attended the picnic over the course of the afternoon, with around 150 on hand for the march.
A related event, That’s My Drag show, hosted by the Crown Theatre in Harriston that evening, drew a near-capacity audience of around 200.