Minden Pride chair David Rankin said forging ahead with the event was important despite the pandemic.

Rankin said a recent incident in Harcourt exemplifies the need for Pride, where gay teen Evan Natale was harassed while walking and the community responded with an ad hoc Pride march. Before that, Rankin said the family was not aware Minden Pride existed.

“It is important that youth who are younger, may not have the same social supports, may even be questioning at this point, understand that it’s safe for them to come out within this community,” Rankin said. “This is a way they can be made aware, and that we have a very strong, vibrant and supportive community for people of all ages.”

The weeklong celebration is going ahead Aug. 24-30, with primarily virtual events. But some events will be held in-person, such as a drive-in movie night at Abbey Gardens.

The planning committee had to change plans due to the pandemic, Rankin said. But he added they wanted to continue and provide something to celebrate in a difficult year.

“Things took a drastic change. We were uncertain what to do,” Rankin said. “We put together a plan that we thought we might be able to convert into real life, but looked at planning most of it virtually … We thought we could add a little bit of festivity to people’s lives.”

This will be the first Minden Pride without one of its co-founders and pillars, Sinclair Russell, who died in May. The organization is preparing a rainbow bench in Minden dedicated to him. Rankin said although Russell had stepped away from a primary organizing role, he left a big impact and still offered plenty of help for this year’s event.

“His big persona and his big ideas, he always shared those,” Rankin said. “He was still really a big part of the planning process.”

A full listing of events is available at mindenpride.ca. Rankin said it is a significant year, with the event’s fifth anniversary.

“We’re hoping it really solidifies our presence here within the community,” Rankin said. “That people really understand we are here, through thick and thin.”

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