NEW GLASGOW – When Gerard Veldhoven moved to Pictou County a few years ago, he was surprised at how welcome he felt as a gay man, having heard it was a conservative community.
He received a supportive reception from the Town of New Glasgow, especially in terms of organizing Pride Week.
“The town has been so co-operative,” the past organizer said.
This year the focus of the event is the accomplishments of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.
Veldhoven, master of ceremonies for the flag-raising opening ceremony this year, has been an advocate for gay rights for 40 years and has seen profound changes.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop spreading the message of acceptance.
“Some ask is Pride Week still necessary? Yes (it is),” he said.
Jesiah MacDonald, a Trenton transgendered man and one of the co-ordinators of Pride Week, said it’s a good way to celebrate the LGBT community.
He said the area still has a little way to go in terms of acceptance.
“If it’s a scale of one to ten, I’d place Pictou County at a six. There are always pockets of accepting and open-minded people,” he said, adding that there are those who aren’t, as well.
The community must be doing something right, Stevi Gerrior, one of the co-ordinators, said, as they’re now losing less of the community to bigger cities.
“We lose less kids to the city now. Most used to come out and flee to Halifax.”
She noted an increase in gay straight alliances and homophobia presentations in schools.
This is an example of the improvements that will be discussed at the panel discussions at the New Glasgow Library as part of Pride Week on June 25.
Gerrior and MacDonald noted that last year’s discussions were more of an introduction to the panelists, while this year they’ll examine how far they’ve come.
This is only one of the changes, another being the time the events are held, now coinciding with WorldPride in Toronto.
Organizers have been planning the events since March, and are especially looking forward to the panel as well as the concert with Theresa Malenfant and Katey Day, two Maritime blues musicians.
All of the events, with the exception of the concert, are free.
Pictou County Celebrates Pride Week
June 23: Pride Flag Raising Ceremony, noon, Riverfront Gazebo
June 24: Give Back to the Community, 9 a.m. – noon, 115 MacLean Street
June 25: Panel Discussion, 2 – 4 p.m., and 7 – 9 p.m., New Glasgow Library Community Room
June 26: Trenton Park Day, 9 a.m., Trenton
June 27: Theresa Malenfant & Katey Day concert, opened by Patrick Walsh and Lacey Morrell, 8 p.m., tickets $20 advance and $25 at door, Glasgow Square
June 29: Pride Pancake Breakfast, 8 – 10 a.m., by donation, North End Rec Centre