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'Queer joy is its own act of resistance;' Minto celebrates Pride in the Park

Over 100 people flooded the Palmerston Lion's Heritage Park to attend Minto's fourth annual Pride in the Park

PALMERSTON – Celebrating under a sea of inclusive Pride flags, over 100 queer folk and allies braved the overcast weather Sunday afternoon to attend Minto's fourth annual Pride in the Park under the Palmerston Lion's Heritage Park pavilion. 

While many attendees were braced for protestors due to an ongoing campaign to make the township's public spaces "neutral," the event remained peaceful and many people were seen writing letters to the township to show their support for public Pride in between participating in a host of activities and visiting various booths and food stalls.

"To us celebrating Pride means promoting self-affirmation, dignity and equal rights for all," said Minto Pride committee chair and Palmerston high school teacher Brayden Scott. "It's a time for people from all walks of life to stop and reflect on what it means to be truly accepting and accepted and the peaceful positive effect this can have on our community." 

Asking attendees to join Minto Pride in "fighting for equality and social justice for all," Scott said it's important for residents to speak about equity and pride in an unfiltered honest way" and said the system will never improve if allies don't use their voices to call out problems 2SLGBTQIA+ people face.

Minto Pride has campaigned to fly the Pride flag at town hall during the month of June and installed the first rainbow crosswalk in Wellington County in Harriston, among other things, since they were founded in 2019.

"Some may find it disheartening to hear about how hard this work continues to be in Minto but we don't mean to discourage you in any way. There's power in sharing our experiences and supporting one another," said Scott. "Our passion gives us a common goal and for most, remembering your why is important, why this matters to you, why this is important to you and why we can't give up. Our hurt and frustration comes from the fact that we love this work deeply and fiercely and for many of us, it is our everyday lives." 

The event started with music from Groundcover, an openly queer, Guelph-based band that played a variety of folk rock songs, many of which contained lyrics discussing personal themes of sexuality and gender identity. The trio later spoke to the crowd about the meaning of Pride.

"Reveling in queer joy is its own act of resistance and it's so important and essential to what we're all here for today as a community," said Lindsey Thomson Groundcover's drummer. "Today we gather in joyous celebration, unapologetically expressing ourselves and unafraid to show our pride and absolute in our right to exist as we have always existed."

"I know (the haters) are not a monolith and I know that they may really only be misinformed and have many other lovely qualities but their actions sure feel like hate sometimes to us," said Groundcover lead singer Jey Plourde. "If you don't want your children to turn out like us and it seems like you'd rather we didn't exist...I (just want the haters to know) I love me more than you could ever hate me."

Reading an array of picture books with themes of equality like Gorgeously Me! by Jonathan Van-Ness, Toronto drag queens Fay Slift and Fluffy Soufflé did drag story time and spoke about the importance of smalltown Pride during their segment. 

"There's something incredibly magical and wonderful about being able to come to a small community and see everyone come together and be proud," said Slift. "We carry that with us beyond this celebration." 

Apologizing for Mayor Dave Turton's absence, Coun. Paul Zimmerman spoke during pride on behalf of the council and gave train rides during the event. Turton is currently out of the province and was unable to attend the event. 

"The town of Minto and the council recognize and acknowledge that diversity, equity and inclusion are important in fostering a welcome, accessible and understanding community," said Zimmerman, referencing Minto's strategic plan during his speech. 

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.