Guelph Pride got a sunny and sterling start on Saturday during the flag raising ceremony and community barbecue outside Guelph City Hall.
"A day like today really signifies the support that we have when our community comes together," said Martin Straathof, chairman of Guelph Pride, in the official launch of a week of events celebrating and supporting the LGBTQ community.
"Guelph Pride started out as a family picnic 13 years ago. It went from that one small event to what it is today, which is 10 days with 18 events spread throughout the city with tonnes of support from community members," Straathof said.
Children played games, people enjoyed free food and dignitaries made opening remarks to launch the week. There was even some entertainment, as the Rainbow Chorus supplied some live music, followed by a DJ.
Straathof later joined Mayor Cam Guthrie and Jamie Clinch, regional vice-president with title sponsor RBC Canada, in raising the rainbow flag beside City Hall.
"We are very, very proud to be the title sponsor," Clinch said. "At RBC we believe in the values of diversity and inclusion and how their powers make our communities a stronger and more vital place to live."
"Diversity invites us to seek understanding and compels us to challenge all of our unconscious biases," Clinch said. "We each deserve to feel proud about who we are and who we love."
This week's events range from youth bowling to a sharing event at the Guelph Public Library were members of the queer community share their stories and experiences. The week wraps up with a confirmation ceremony at Harcourt United Church on Sunday.
Guthrie said there is still bullying in society because of someone's sexual orientation, which makes events like Guelph Pride all that more important.
It is the 10th year Guelph has flown the rainbow flag.
"It is an important symbol of respect for all," Guthrie said.
"We have seen legislative changes and the move from legislative changes to awareness and acceptance. But there are still those stereotypes that are out there, and that's why these moments are important for your community and for the whole community of the City of Guelph," Guthrie said.
Straathof said the flag raising signifies the unity of the city with the LGBTQ community.
A full listing of events Guelph Pride can be found at www.guelphpride.com.