Pride Week kicks off with flag raising

Robin Levinson
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Still plenty of work to be done to promote LGBTQ rights: advocates

The rainbow flag fluttered in the sunshine outside St. John’s City Hall, but there were reminders everywhere the community still has work to do to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people.

The ceremonies held Monday at city hall and Memorial University were to mark the beginning of Pride Week, a week devoted to raising awareness about LGBTQ issues through events, lectures, parties and a parade Saturday.

Megan Webb is 16, and came out as a lesbian last year.

She said she went to last year’s Pride parade and loved it so much she’s going to all the events this year.

“When I figured out that people are actually celebrating being gay I was so happy,” she said.

 

Worries about challenges

Her mom, Dale Johnson, came with her. Tearing up, she said she was happy to support her daughter, but she worries about the challenges Megan will face.

“There’s a lot of mean people still out there and that’s something that we have to work on.”

Many of the day’s speakers discussed how violence continued to touch the community, citing Jamie Hubley and Raymond Taavel as tragic examples.

Taavel was killed earlier this spring outside a gay bar in Halifax.

Hubley was an openly gay Ottawa teen who committed suicide last year after battling bullying and depression for years.

His story is an especially poignant reminder of the price paid for homophobia in schools.

Last January, the province passed anti-gay bullying laws and Susan Rose, the provincial representative for Egale Canada, said that is just the start to making schools safe for everyone.  

 

Rights violations

A former school teacher, Rose said schools that single out LGBTQ students are violating the students’ human rights.

 

“It’s disgusting,” Rose said.

“Transphobia and homophobia are still very much present on campus,” said Erin Edwards, a representative from MUN’s students’ union and an organizer of Pride events on campus.

Edwards and fellow MUN students are throwing the second annual Pride on Campus event. Their goal is to make campus a safe space for everyone and educate students who might not be familiar with LGBTQ  issues.

There are signs the LGBTQ community is being welcomed in St. John’s. Mayor Dennis O'Keefe attended the flag raising.  

And Gerry Rogers (NDP-St. John's Centre), the first openly gay person to be elected to the provincial legislature, credited the LGBTQ community for helping her win the election.

“In 2015 I’m looking forward to more,” she said.

But she reminded the energetic crowd the province still has a way to go, especially in the area of rights for transgender persons.

Although both Ontario and Manitoba have added or are adding gender identity to human rights legislation, Newfoundland and Labrador has yet to do the same.

“By God, we can do it in this province,” Rogers said.

 

Transgender issues

Transgender issues became a touchy subject at this year’s Pride Week when one of its organizers, Jennifer McCreath, resigned in March. She said she was disappointed by the event’s treatment of the transgender community.

She said that gender identity and sexual identity are not the same.

“There is an issue among the gay and lesbian-run organizations that they don’t feel comfortable having the trans people deeply engaged in their work,” McCreath said.

She organized her own trans pride flag-waving event Monday evening, in order to “fill these gaps” in Pride Week’s transgender curriculum. Specifically, she said the differences between gender identity and sexual identity needs to be better explained to the community.

“This is not a matter of who you want to date. This is actually a matter of who you feel you are,” McCreath said.

 

robin.levinson@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Egale Canada, St. John's Centre

Geographic location: Halifax, Ottawa, Ontario Manitoba Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Anon to whatta ya at
    July 20, 2012 - 09:33

    Dere dood, I kan c thatt u ar a grammmmer knotsy, may kerecting this coment b teh onley thinge u think aboute al day longe

  • The Truth
    July 17, 2012 - 15:59

    My post may not even be published because it involves the words of God in the Bible. For anyone interested enough, please refer to the following: Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. I am fully aware that I am ruffling a lot of feathers, or whatever, but I believe in God's truth, not man's made for their own convenience.

    • and nothing but the truth
      July 18, 2012 - 18:37

      You do know that God did not write the bible, correct? Do you think it is a sin to wear wool/linen, or cotton/polyester blend because the bible says not to wear clothes made of two different thread?You can't take some parts of the bible to heart and leave out the parts you either disagree with or think are inane. Happy Pride Week Everyone!

  • Joseph McGrath
    July 17, 2012 - 15:31

    The gay lifestyle has been around NL for many years now and most of us do not even think about it .I do not see the need for a week of celebrations but if that is the wish so what???It does not in anyway effect me or anyone else that I know off in anyway except I see the oink oink politicans looking for photo opps.Politicans got to be in the front of everything and it is only to get votes in most cases.I may not agree with the lifesyle but this country is founded on freedom so leave the gay community alone.I live by my values but others are completly free to live by their own!!!The real topic of concern not being addressed here is a cure for AIDS which affects even the very youngest in society and is not a gay only health issue but one for people world wide.If the time and money spent on many Pride days was instead directed to finding a cure we would all live in a much healthier world.So to "Doc"AND "Ms.Rogers"etc. I suggest spearheading a drive to raise funds to help those already suffering with HIV in this province and to provide funds for more Aids research.My understanding is great strides have been made already.Get over yoursel people!!!You seem to forget we are all human and yes we have our personal beliefs and will surely all eventually die with them.Nuff said!!!

  • Eli
    July 17, 2012 - 14:35

    Yes b'y or is it yes g'rl, perhaps like Quebec you want a Distinct Society. Nothin' like drawin' attention to yourselves. Handle it and stop blaming everybody else for your "situation". Pantyhose anyone?

  • Joe. B.
    July 17, 2012 - 13:23

    Gee, THEWHOLETRUTH and Anna, society loves Christmas, but do those parents and kids have to flaunt it in my face with a parade once a year? How dare they!! I love Caribbean food and culture but do I HAVE to look at that Caribana parade in Toronto once a year? And I respect veterans as much as the next guy, but must they gather in front of the War Memorial each Remembrance Day? If only those Jews would stop commemorating the Holocaust, people wouldn’t hate Jews so much! Your logic is astounding. As long as gay kids are being bullied to death in this province and Iranian gays are being beheaded I will support the parade. Maybe you’d feel better if LBGLTs went about AS IF they were universally accepted, but the fact is they are not. Not yet, and not by a long shot. And obviously not by you either. Explain your thinly veiled intolerance mother whose gay kid just hung himself. And don't compare a few dozen people and their dogs walking down Water Street with a few rainbow flags to the admittedly over the top events in bigger cities. If that happened here I imagine your head would explode.

  • all for rights
    July 17, 2012 - 12:59

    the views on here by some people are exactly why there needs to be a flag and parade and all the events! until people can go out in public and live there lives normally without getting weird or discusting looks or the whispers then this is needed! no straight people dont have a week or flag because they are all accepted and dont have the battles that gay ppl do! it seems one sided how its ok for straight people to dress" far out" on events like canada day but when people in the LGBTQ community do they get judged for it

  • Whaddaya At ?
    July 17, 2012 - 12:36

    Hey, Anon; 'biggot' is not correct; its 'bigot'. It doesn't spell with two g's, like 'faggot'. Let's get the spelling right here.

  • Anon
    July 17, 2012 - 11:29

    What's with the queer in LGTBQ? And can we stop calling it homophobia and transphobia. I mean if a guy runs under his desk screaming and crying when he hears an elton john song, then he's probably Homophobic. But if he just hates gay people, then he's a biggot. Let's get the dialogue right here people.

  • Leah
    July 17, 2012 - 10:21

    I agree totally with "THE WHOLE TRUTH". As for transgender, since Cher's daughter (I am really sorry that I cannot remember HIS first name) showed the feelings and process openingly on T.V., I understand and care. What a major, courageous decision this has to be.

  • Anna
    July 17, 2012 - 10:13

    I agree with The Whole Truth, all these parades do is make the people who are against gay people only dispise you more. It's time to stop the flag raising and the parades.

  • dmg
    July 17, 2012 - 09:54

    Raymond Taavel's death was very tragic and sad, but he wasn't a victim of a hate crime. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It could have been someone of any sexual orientation that was victimized that night. Proud of St. John's embracing their gay community. :-)

  • Malinda
    July 17, 2012 - 08:53

    Pride week brings people together. The attitude that being gay/transgendered/bisexual/etc is "ok" has taken a LONG time to achieve and sadly isnt fully supported as of yet. It is an uphill struggle and the show of solidarity and support is heart warming and- in the case of some- nesscairy for survival. Going over the top and dressing up is not an uncommon practise for any celebration (Canada day festivites anyone?). I am happy to see St. Johns embrace this. The tides are turning... and it excited me to say I was alive to see it.

  • thewholetruth
    July 17, 2012 - 08:26

    being gay, lesbian or transgendered is fine. everyone is different, everyone has their own identity. i have friends who are gay, lesbian etc and they are valued friends. but....why flaunt it in such a fashion? why the parades? the parade in toronto a few weeks ago was overkill. it is the means by which the LGBTQ community shoves their over the top lifestyle in our faces.(dressing as chickens, roosters, and other far out attire) to each his own....but i dont openly advertise or celebrate the fact that i am straight. if the LGBTQ community wishes to be treated as a community that is universally accepted....the same way the straight communitty is accepted (which I am all for)....then go about your life as if it is universally accepted....you are not special....you are one of us....gay, lesbian, straight or whatever....no need for the overkill people... perhaps the straight community, or the disabled community should have a special week also....everyone is equal...

    • Because it's still condemed by some
      July 17, 2012 - 12:28

      Because to a select percentage of the population, being anything other than straight is considered a sin, a diesease, a life choice, etc. Imagine if I told you that straight people were allowed to marry but only those who are fit, attractive, intelligent, rich. Anyone who did not fit that mold would not be allowed to marry, adopt or have children. How would you react to that? Everyone is equal.....I respectfully disagree. When people of the LGBTQ communitiy still have to fight for equal rights, then this parade serves a purpose. The day, the LGBTQ can participate and live a life free of judgement then I would suggest the Pride Week parade be renamed to Life Week or something that would be open to all races, genders and lifestyles.