City shows its Pride

Justin Brake
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Pride Flag

The raising of the rainbow flag outside St. John’s City Hall at noon today will mark the launch of what could be the biggest event in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer (LGBTQ) community in the city’s history.

For the first time the event is being run by an incorporated body, St. John’s Pride Inc., and organizers say they believe this year’s events, July 18-24, will serve as a significant stepping stone to their goal of awareness, acceptance and equality of the community.

Established events such as the flag raising ceremony, Middle Cove Beach bonfire and the closing day Pride Parade and festival will be accompanied by new endeavours to appeal to a wider demographic.

“A huge part of our agenda as a committee this year for Pride has been to make it as accessible as possible to everybody,” says event organizer Vanessa Woodford.

The most notable additions to the schedule are a July 23 Pride Inc. comedy night and dance party fundraiser at Yuk Yuk’s featuring local and visiting standup comics, and a special event at the Arts & Culture Centre July 23 that will see a host of local theatrical, musical and comedic talent join celebrated comedian and television personality Elvira Kurt for what’s being touted as a variety show.

“We thought that it was a real opportunity to start something this year that we hope can be an annual partnership,” says Aiden Flynn, Arts & Culture Centre programming and promotion manager.

Pride organizers are also excited about Memorial University Student Union’s (MUNSU) ambition to bolster Pride Week events on campus, including their own flag raising ceremony, a July 20 ‘Sexuality Unconference,’ and a speakers’ series and panel discussion July 24.

“It’s exciting to see more and more people want to be a part of Pride or affiliated or be seen as supporting the LGBTQ community as a whole,” says St. John’s Pride organizer Jennifer McCreath. “It’s all about recognition and awareness, which hopefully breed acceptance.”

McCreath, who is open about her transsexualism, says she has noticed “a major positive change” since being open with her identity four years ago.

“It seemed quite evident that there was practically no knowledge or information about transsexualism in this city. I went to government entities. I went to the health care system  and there was just very little information out there,” she recalls.

“I was kind of forced to look out for my own best interest and find resources and, unfortunately, I had to sink a lot of my own money into private health care. But now that I’ve gone through this and people are familiar with my experience. … finally (people and organizations) are approaching me.”

Brandon Jenkins, 19, an event organizer, says St. John’s Pride Week events have benefited him in important ways.

“Pride last year actually really helped me finalize the fact that, you know, I’m here and you might not like it, but it’s happening,” he says. “Pride is not just a way to celebrate; it’s also a way to reach out and realize who else is out there and dealing with the same things you’re dealing with, and to support one another. You know you’re not alone when you’ve been to Pride, and that’s why it’s is so important.”

Other Pride Week events include the Town of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove’s inaugural Pride Day and flag raising ceremony Tuesday, a July 21 panel discussion on LGBTQ health care issues at the Arts & Culture Centre basement theatre, and a scavenger hunt and family picnic at Bannerman Park July 23, and much more.

“There will be a day in the future where being gay or being transgendered doesn’t separate you from anyone,” says Jenkins. “But you gotta know where you came from to know where you’re going.”

For a full listing of events visit www.stjohnspride.org  or www.stjohnspride.org.

Organizations: Arts Culture Centre basement theatre, Memorial University Student Union

Geographic location: Logy Bay, Bannerman Park

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Recent comments

  • Tina
    July 19, 2011 - 14:36

    I believe the "Q" is for "Questioning", NOT "Queer".

  • Joseph McGrath
    July 18, 2011 - 20:50

    This Pride thing is way overplayed.Stop acting so different from society because there is no respect in that.

  • Caroline
    July 18, 2011 - 18:58

    Love the universe and the people in it xo

  • Jarge
    July 18, 2011 - 14:46

    You don't need a friggin gay parade to prove you're gay as much as you don't need a straight parade to prove that you're not queer. Why don't we have International Mens Day, and White Pride Month. Ridiculous isn't it?

  • Wow
    July 18, 2011 - 13:39

    I believe in "live and let live" 100%. But it's when my living interferes with other peoples living and a problem occurs. I have absolutely no issue or reservation or ill feelings about LGBT lifestyles. What I do have trouble coping with is the overdone, obnoxious behaviour we have to put up with during pride week each year. I see photos of these parades and events in places like Toronto and people show up in leather, chains, etc, with whips, half-dressed, etc. That's not even really appropriate for a bar, let alone a parade on a Saturday afternoon. I think that type of behaviour actually perpetuates the negative connotations that come along with the LGBT lifestyle. There are plenty of heterosexual people who like the same things in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. When I see things like that in the pride parade, I often think they are making a statement about how "freaky" they are to add more shock value to it. Like people who take part in various "walks" every year, Take Back the Night, for example, there's no need to go overboard. You're making your point by wearing a pin to symbolize the cause, and you're carrying a sign. Any more than that is just too much. Society doesn't need to know what you do in the bedroom. We will accept people if we can go about our daily lives and live in harmony. I will admit, however, that every time I see that colorful flag I can't help but smile :)

  • Kieran
    July 18, 2011 - 13:06

    To see the respect and tolerance shown the gay community in Newfoundland reinforces my belief that we, as a people, are tolerant and understanding. When one reads of the bigotry against gay people in other parts of the world (especially in America) it is comforting to know that here, gay people have a safe and supporting community. One of Newfoundland's greatest attributes, if not its best, is its tolerant and democratically minded society. God bless you all this Pride Week, and let's all pull together to make bigotry and homophobia a thing of the past.

    • mary
      July 18, 2011 - 14:34

      I wish I could believe what you wrote, Kieran, however, I hear a lot of intolerance in NL.

  • Jackie Logans
    July 18, 2011 - 12:56

    Once upon a time GAY was an all-inclusive word meaning To Be Happy. Today this lovely little word means To Be Queer. Homosexuals are, of course, born that way and it's not their fault. However, they should never have been allowed to change the meaning of this fine old word.

    • mary
      July 18, 2011 - 14:30

      The original meaning of gay still exists, nobody changed that.

    • Jackie Logans
      July 18, 2011 - 17:21

      Come, come now, "Mary." Everyone but you knows very well that today the word GAY means only one thing: MALE HOMOSEXUALS.

  • What eva
    July 18, 2011 - 12:52

    Happy Pride everyone. To the negative comments on here, I just find it easy to point out the closeted gay and lesbian's who are having a hard time dealing with who they really are!! They resort to rude comments and actions to divert their and other's attention from the fact that they themselves are in fact gay! It's classic! I feel no anger towards these people, rather pity as these people have been forced by this sort of mentality to hate themselves and others! It's parades like this that will one day let Margret and Scott Free realize that its ok to come out with who they really are and be proud of it!

  • Dave
    July 18, 2011 - 12:34

    Why the Q for queer?? Isn't it all the same? Live and let live...if you guys need a parade then march on...I have no prejustices against anyone as long as it's not shoved down my throat. Peace and One Love

    • JM
      July 18, 2011 - 13:04

      It should be G for TransGendered, not Q

  • disgusted
    July 18, 2011 - 12:03

    It's sickening to hear people try to force me back to the "closet". At 15 I had the crap kicked out of me by 5 guys who ASSUMED I was gay. At that point I wasn't even aware I was gay, but then I realized I was. I aso realized that in every fashion of life there are jerks...much like @margaret here. As a proud lesbian, who will soon be married to the love of her life. I will not hide who I am. And I wish nothing more than the biggots who dare place negative comments on a wonderful press release such as gay pride, then to be BLESSED with LGBTQ family members of their own. Maybe then you will not open your mouths so negatively and pour hatred onto them. For everyone else...HAPPY PRIDE WEEK

  • Dee
    July 18, 2011 - 10:41

    I don,t know what point Scott Free is trying to make ,but these people from the gay parade mostly kids are trying to educate people like you that's they need to to be excepted,as much as you and I,there enough wise cracking jokes out there about gays and other that are out of the ordinary,like colors, over weight people,so maybe if you can sober up long enough,you can spin your head around,and see what's going on around you,it could be yours or my child marching in this parade or a parade of their own some day,Let me tell you no matter what parade mine would march in and have the media catch it,I would certainly be his proud mother.

  • Nottahomo
    July 18, 2011 - 10:16

    Right on Margaret. I am not gay, nor di I want to see any public affection. Stay huddled up in your little closet. Ever hear of Adam and Eve? NOT Adam and Frank or Eve and Jenny!! Start with the comments.

  • rl
    July 18, 2011 - 10:00

    couldn't pride week include heterosexuals as well - to show PRIDE & ACCEPTANCE of ALL relationships - no matter what they are?

    • Esron
      July 18, 2011 - 11:36

      There is nothing that states that 'ros [Hetero] and 'mos [Homo] can't march together. More the merrier. Look at Toronto, you can't say that 100% of the 1 million people at their parade are 'mos. Most are there for the spectacle, and to enjoy the party. Granted our parade is more of a march than anything else, most of the events are meant to include everybody who wants to take part. Happy Pride everybody!

  • Elle
    July 18, 2011 - 09:57

    Indeed, Margaret, live and let live. Perhaps the point of the LBGT Pride events are misunderstood. They are meant to raise awareness in others, to encourage those that feel isolated to reach out and know they are not alone. I find it quite similar to the "Take Back the Night" event, with part of its intent to raise awareness that women are strong individuals, that women are still being abused and that more needs to be done for women equality (I'm glossing over here..) We would not (and should not) ask that Take Back the Night be stopped, and neither should we ask that Pride events be stopped. LBGT individuals have suffered discrimination, and this is a meant to push back, to show others that being lesbian or gay or bi- or transgendered is ok, that there's nothing wrong. It's done in hopes that one day, people will look at it and see it's just a regular as a heterosexual relationship. And even then, there will probably still be a pride week, to remember the rights they fought for. And when the kiddies ask questions? Well.. what do you do when they start asking about the birds and the bees? Or why the boy and girl in front of them are kissing? Please don't tell me that 5-7 year olds don't ask this. I have been around more than enough children from 3 and up that start asking simple questions about why people kiss. For that matter, what do you plan on telling your children when they see a young man kissing another young man, or a young woman kissing another young woman. Really, the answer would be the same as if they asked why a man and woman were kissing. "Because when two growns ups really like/love each other, they sometimes like to kiss." It's just like what I was told when I was a little kiddie and asked! So don't worry about the kids being "too young" to explain to them. Telling them that simple answer will only help to show them that this is perfrectly normal and help them grow up to be open minded adults.

  • Scott Free
    July 18, 2011 - 09:38

    Notice to all; I'm the proud, founding member of the SGBBQBDNG (Straight Guy BarBeQue Beer Drinking Neighbourhood Gang) and I'm hosting the first annual walk around my shed on my own private property parade all weekend long. If you're not affiliated with any special lobby or community group or any of the political parties, and you have no beef with anyone nor require attention seeking and pampering, come join me for some fun and refreshments. We'll laugh and poke fun at one another, tell a few off color jokes, eat and drink more that we should and have a great time; harm no-one, intrude on no-one; get no message across and enjoy ourselves; insult no-one; demand nothing and respect all walks of society. Geez, sounds like most neighbourhood shed parties on just about any street; no need for special attention, media, by-laws, permits, or any kind of legalities. oh, BTW, BYOB

    • Brian
      July 18, 2011 - 10:16

      What a uptopian world you must live in, where LGTB people are treated exactly the same as heterosexuals. Fact is they're not. Your bigotry shines through your cleverness.

  • Bob
    July 18, 2011 - 09:24

    I too believe in live and let live but when I see guys(?) on parade dressed like brothel hussies and kissing it just plain sickens me. I'm referring to TV clips which thankfully don't last very long.

  • Colleen
    July 18, 2011 - 09:23

    So very proud to see that other small communities are showing their support in something that is so very important to many, many people. This week is certainly not about hurting other people, or rubbing things in other people's faces. It's about acceptance, understanding and just being proud of people as a Whole. I will certainly be celebrating this week with my Partner and our children while educating them of just how much of a family we are without Judgement. @ Margaret I feel such sadness that you are so far in the dark and scared to share such learning to your family. Some day those sweet grandchildren of yours can help teach you important facts of life! Happy Pride everyone!!! :)

  • NJ
    July 18, 2011 - 09:12

    It's interesting when people say, "live any lifestyle you choose, but a little more privately, please". Hilarious. I hear this all the time when people try to seem open-minded but then end with saying that what people do behind closed-doors is fine, just not out in the open. How do I explain this to young children when they ask? I say, those are two people in love. They are both the same gender, maybe not like mommy and daddy, but just because they are different it doesn't mean it's wrong. We all love the same way. Case closed. Isn't it hypocritical to say that what someone does behind closed-doors is fine as long as it's not out in the open, when you, as a heterosexual person is allowed? Are you fine with a man and a woman holding hands in public, but find it wrong that two women may do it? What harm is there? NONE! People need to open their eyes: this is why Pride Events exist. Until people can openly explain to their children what, for example, homosexuality is and that it is fine to kiss your same-sex partner on the cheek in public like any other heterosexual couple would do, then this type of thing will still be organized. Grow-up people: it's a rainbow flag signifying unity. Amongst all. Embrace it and move on.

  • Friend of the LGBTQ's
    July 18, 2011 - 09:06

    Margaret, I am astonished at your reply. There are hundreds of events that happen every year that may not have anything to do with you and your lifestyle but do you complain about those being promoted? And children of five and seven are not too young to begin to learn about the diverse and beautiful world that we live in. I remember asking my mom at a very young age what being gay was, and her answer of, "It's when boys like boys and when girls like girls" was an age appropriate and satisfactory answer. Wrapping kids up in cotton wool does not protect them, it leaves them at a real disadvantage when they get out here in this real world with the rest of us.

  • Cara Brown
    July 18, 2011 - 09:03

    Margaret, When your grandchildren ask you what it's "all about", feel free to tell them that Pride parades and festivities are about celebrating the LGBT community and how far we have come in such a short period of time. Just 40 years ago, lesbians and gays were hunted like criminals by governments in Canada and the US. Until a few years ago, it wasn't legal for lesbians and gays to marry in ANY country, including Canada. Until a few months ago, lesbians and gays weren't allowed to serve openly in the American military. While we live in a fairly progressive world and country, there are still a lot that needs to be done. Transgendered people still don't have the same rights as you or I. The spouses of lesbians and gays in the United States don't have the same rights as you and I. LGBT people are still being arrested and prosecuted like crininals in many countries around the world (more specifically African countries). So while it's a celebration in many aspects, it's still a tool we use to raise awareness - to let people know that while our countries have made historical allowances for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, there is still more that needs to be done, not just here, but in foreign countries as well. So, when your grandchildren ask you what Pride is about, tell them it's a celebration of who we are, how far we as a society has come and what work still needs to be done to achieve complete equality. Cara Brown St. John's Pride

  • Political watcher
    July 18, 2011 - 09:02

    Sure Margaret, lets throw then back into the closet. It is due to those attitudes and thoughts that we need these public awareness campaigns and on your grandchildren, tell them what everybody tells theirs; diferent people have diferent lifestyles and we must all be tolerant and accepting of others. Happy Pride Week

  • MargaretToo
    July 18, 2011 - 08:54

    LGBTQ?? When did the Q come in?

  • rjuned
    July 18, 2011 - 08:47

    @ Margaret : My kids are 5 and 8. The 8 year old accepts seeing same-sex couples without batting an eyelash, but my 5 year old has asked questions. I told her that sometimes, instead of a husband and a wife, there are wife and wife or husband and husband; that sometimes women can fall in love with women, and men can fall in love with other men. She was quite satisfied by this answer. I think it's best to teach acceptance and love right from an early age so that it comes naturally to them, and while they're young enough to start with simple answers. If they ask what's up with the rainbow flag or the parade, I have my explanation ready: "Sometimes people aren't nice to men who love men or women who love women. That's not okay. The parade/flag/festivities are like a party so people can learn that they're good, nice people."

  • Andrew
    July 18, 2011 - 08:45

    To Margaret: It is only difficult to explain it if you are unwilling. My sister-in-law and her wife have a wonderful son. My two year old daughter knows that her cousin has two mommies, and that she has two aunts, and everyone loves each other very much. When she will ask why he has two mommies, it will be much easier to answer "Because they love each other" than answering "Where do babies come from?" This is continually thrown in people's faces because people have continuously been unwilling to accept it.

  • Margaret
    July 18, 2011 - 07:19

    Live and let live; however, people really don't need, and maybe don't want, this continuously thrown in their faces. Not only that, but how do I explain to my five and seven year old grandchildren what this is all about when they ask questions? That's too young an age yet to explain to them. Live any lifestyle you choose, but a little more privately, please.

    • Rick
      July 18, 2011 - 08:33

      Margaret, Your grandchildren probably are too young to be explaining sex to them, but they're not too young to understand relationships and families. They've seen people kiss, especially on TV, and have ideas about what a family is and what kind of special relationship couples have. What they might not be aware of is that those couples can be same-sex or not. If they ask about pride week you should explain to them that there are many different kinds of relationships and families that adults can have, and that all of them are ok. In a few years they'll start to hear other kids throwing around the word gay as an insult or synonym for 'bad', and if they know that being gay isn't a bad thing they might turn out not to be bullies or to be understanding of other kids who are gay or of themselves if they happen to be gay.

    • I'm not gay but
      July 18, 2011 - 08:46

      know a lot of people who are. Margaret...Your saying they should go back in the closet? You’re exactly why this should go public. Its opinions and mentalities like yours that make this event worth wild.

    • Daniel
      July 18, 2011 - 09:08

      "You see, children, all people are equal, but not everyone believes gay people are equal. That's why there's Pride Week!" Doesn't seem too hard to me.

    • motheroffour
      July 18, 2011 - 09:14

      Tell your grandchildren that not every boy likes a girl and not every girl likes a boy...........be open and honest with them about it......you don't have to tell them about sexual whatevers........but don't cover it and continue the discrimination/prejudiced and negativity towards GLBT. We are all equal whether we are straight, GLBT.......... I have four kids and they know that everyone is different and for different reasons and they know some people will like the same sex and that is their choice...........you have to make it ok for your kids/grandkids to know about this after all you have no idea if are GLBT...........just a thought!!!

    • Ang
      July 18, 2011 - 09:28

      @ Margaret: Keep in mind those grand children of yours, may one day very well come to you to tell you that they are gay, that they need support and love and guidance, looking to you to tell them they are not abnormal and they are not wrong for feeling the way they do. No one is ever too young to be educated about LGBT issues, because after all this life is not about Sex, but about life, and everyone is entitled to live it whichever way they please. Pride Celebrations are not about throwing anything in anyone's faces, its about education as well as giving LGBT a common ground among minorities. Your asking people to live a little more privately is promoting prejudice and not allowing those precious grandchildren to grow up with an open mind. When those grandkids ask you questions about this, tell them the truth, tell them that not all people are made the same, and tell them that society has thrown minority groups to the wolves and these celebrations are a way for us to take back our lives and stop living in fear that people such as yourselves will be offended by people living their lives. Your very first words are "live and let live", perhaps you should have stopped there before you threw your ideals in everyone's faces. On a lighter note, I am ecstatic to see how far we have come and see how many more communities are getting involved! Happy Pride !

    • mary
      July 18, 2011 - 14:49

      According to what you wrote, Margaret, the Christmas Parade should be cancelled as there are people like myself who are not Christian and we don't need all that Christmas stuff thrown in our faces. It isn't just one day with one parade, it is a whole season of Christmas stuff. Enjoy your Christian lifestyle, but, please not in public with parades and music and lights and .... Actually, I love the Christmas celebrations, I love the spirit of Christmas