Minden Pride’s theme of ‘love is love is love’ was chosen as a positive message to help counter negativity and vitriol that still exists towards 2SLGBTQ+ people, chair Allan Guinan said at a flag-raising ceremony in Minden Aug. 21.

Kicking off a week of celebrations, Guinan said they have had incidents leading up to this week, including vandalism to their main banner and flags, “so, there’s still work to be done and there is a reason that we are here.”

However, he added the committee had been busier than ever since the beginning of April, as invited guests to help promote awareness and acceptance of the queer community across the Highlands. He said the reception had been good, although some people are still “uncomfortable with Pride being as bold as it is in the community.”

One of those outreach efforts was Pride week at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School (HHSS) in June. Guinan said it signaled how far the County has come to create a more positive space for youth who may identify as 2SLGBTQ+. Guinan added there have been many stories in the past of teens and young adults being bullied, and in some cases forced out, by their peers, “and I believe we are making a difference.”

Jenn Mills is the principal of HHSS. Born and raised in the County, she attended the school herself.

“We have come a long way since then and I’m very proud that I get to be part of the continued growth that I witness every day at HHSS and in our community,” she said. She applauded the work of the justice, equity, diversity, inclusion (JEDI) leadership team at the school.

“At HHSS, we strive everyday to create an environment where everyone can be who they are and feel safe and supported so they can learn and grow.”

Guinan said this year they are again raising funds for the Rainbow Railroad, an organization that brings queer people at risk out of countries where they are persecuted, imprisoned, “or worse.”

Remaining events this week are:

• Aug. 24 – Drag story time at the Haliburton library 3-4 p.m. Minden Pride trivia night at the Dominion 7-9 p.m. Outdoor movie night at the Minden Hills Cultural Centre at dusk.

• Aug. 25 – Queer comedy night at Sir Sam’s Ski and Bike, 7-9 p.m.

• Aug. 26 – Divas dance party at the Haliburton Legion featuring Dani Doucette at 7:30 p.m.

• Aug. 27 – Rainbow Street Festival 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and pride river parade noon to 2 p.m. downtown Minden.