On Aug. 22 politicians and other community members watched as the multi-coloured Pride flag was hoisted high above Minden.
On Aug. 25, the dance floor at the Pinestone Resort will be bustling during “Viva Burlesque,” which is sold out. Pride in the Haliburton Highlands is in full swing. Its theme this year, “Loud and Proud,” is a call to celebrate.
But according to Minden Pride board members it’s a call to live out your identity in the face of dangerous rhetoric that seems to be getting louder in Canada this year.
In the words of Allan Guinan, chairperson, events around the world underscore the need for Pride celebrations.
Minden Pride itself was formed in 2016 after a storefront in Haliburton was targeted with homophobic graffiti.
Since then, the group has been a fixture at events around the County, and its pride week festivities have drawn large crowds. The importance of its commitment to diversity and inclusion remains just as crucial today as it was in 2016.
Acts of hatred towards LGBTQ+ people seem to have increased in Canada. The Canadian Anti-hate network reported a rise in anti-transgender rhetoric online this summer, spilling over from chat rooms into mainstream social media and public life.
Those running for school board positions in Ottawa, for instance, run against a candidate who is campaigning on a platform expressly opposed to education about transgender rights.
A person who identifies as non-binary was nearly hit with a glass bottle in Ottawa this summer. Pride flags were stolen in Norwich, Ontario, by a man who compared the movement for gay rights to Nazism.
In Haliburton, the library and Minden Pride itself, along with The Highlander, received calls from people opposed to the family-friendly Drag Queen Storytime event. Opposition to these storytimes has spread, primarily online, with unsubstantiated and transphobic claims about children’s safety.
In multiple communities across Canada, libraries have been sent threats. In June, an Ontario teen was arrested for threatening to carry out a mass shooting at a Pride event in Florida. 2021 was the deadliest year in recent history for people who are transgender or gendernonconforming. Three hundred and seventyfive people were murdered worldwide. For many, to be “Loud and Proud” in the Highlands in 2022 still might not be easy. For some it still might not be safe. Minden Pride has been instrumental in bringing visibility and voice to many issues surrounding inclusion and diversity in Haliburton County, and providing a safe space for many. For allies, politicians, members of the media and friends talking with friends, we must recognize the work and listening necessary to make this County truly safe and inclusive for all.