REFOCUS BY GERARD VELDHOVEN
On July 17 another Pride Flag raising ceremony was held in Nova Scotia. Other towns and cities in the province have similar events to celebrate diversity and the achievements the LGBTQ members of Canadian society have gained during the past years. However, this was a special occasion for me as it was held in my former place of residence, Amherst, the border town that has a special relationship with Sackville, N.B.
The two towns share in celebrating Pride events and LGBTQ folks also find groups and friends that provide support and social events. The last flag raising event was held in 2011 and I truly believed that would be the last one to be held as the Cumberland Pride Society had folded. Not so, as I received an email from Dawn Ripley, the Community Health Co-ordinator for the Cumberland Health Authority, to invite me to participate in the Pride Flag raising ceremony in Amherst.
Of course celebrations are held throughout Atlantic Canada, the largest being in Halifax. Even as we harbour disappointment and outrage about how LGBTQs are treated around the world – yes, in many instances in Canada as well – we must celebrate accomplishments and make our mark as contributing citizens. We march on and make waves, we shake and we move and as we do what we are supposed to do, we raise awareness around the Globe.
Eventually, we hope to experience change, realizing the result of hard work. However, we cannot become complacent as that results in negative thinking and so change will not be forthcoming. Remember that there are forces all around us that are busy working to change laws and put forth ideas how to minimize and indeed rid society of those who seem not to be “normal.” The world religions are constantly discriminating against the gay community. We see it written and hear news items from all over the world condemning people because of their sexual orientation. There are exceptions such as the United Church of Canada, the Quakers and a handful of others that support us fully in same-sex marriage and total equality. So, as I contemplate achievements, I also express concern.
Thanks to those jurisdictions that do support the LGBTQ community and indicate this by hosting celebrations that bring together everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. As a citizen of Nova Scotia I express my appreciation to all areas of the province, New Glasgow, Amherst, Sydney, Halifax, Sackville, N.B., and others where we share our thoughts and celebrate diversity. Comments and information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.