Pride groups in N.L. showing virtual support through pandemic

Pride groups from across Atlantic Canada are coming together to support members of the LGBTQ2S+ community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Campaign aims to create a sense of community through the COVID-19 pandemic

Gorvin Greening is the co-chair of St. John's Pride. The group is taking part in the Pride at Home initiative launched by Halifax Pride. (Gorvin Greening/Twitter)

Pride groups from across Atlantic Canada are coming together to support members of the LGBT community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pride from Home initiative was started by Halifax Pride earlier this month. After learning about the project on social media, St. John's Pride co-chair Gorvin Greening wanted to get involved.

"In a time when most all of us are stuck at home, it seemed like obvious sense to go with this," Greening told The St. John's Morning Show. 

Since talking with Halifax Pride, the initiative has spread across Newfoundland and Labrador, with Pride groups in Grand Falls-Windsor, Corner Brook and Fogo Island also getting involved. Greening said Pride from Home is aimed at creating a sense of community in times of physical isolation.

"It's just to create a presence in a community where physically right now that's not possible," Greening said. "We want to create a sense of community for members of the LGBT community who right now feel very alone. Life as they knew it is simply now changed."

Trent Taylor, far right, says the physical isolation that comes COVID-19 can be especially tough for members of the LGBT community. File photo. (Submitted by Fogo Island Pride)

Trevor Taylor, co-director of Fogo Island Pride, said the signs of support can often mean a lot for members of the LGBT community, who may be at a higher risk of mental health issues as a result of isolation.

"It's a vulnerable population who is now being put into a further vulnerable space," Taylor told CBC Newfoundland Morning. "For example, you take a look at the student who may not be necessarily out to their family or not part of a supportive family. School and their local [gay-straight alliance] was probably the only safe space they had."

"And now of course, with classes suspended, that's been taken away from them," Taylor added.

As part of Pride at Home festivities, running from April 17-19, Pride groups are asking the public to show signs of support for members of the LGBT community including items like rainbow flags.

For those who wish to be a little more creative, Greening pointed to the rainbows painted on windows already as a sign of support for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marchers walk the streets of downtown St. John's during the 2017 Pride parade. File photo. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

"Kids here in the province have kind of led the way on this one in terms of displaying a rainbow in their windows as a thank you for essential workers," Greening said. "And we think it's a great opportunity for this to serve that purpose as well. There's no reason why one symbol can't do multiple things."

Looking toward the future

With many events across the province being cancelled as a result of COVID-19, Greening said the status of the annual St. John's Pride festival, scheduled for July 10, is up in the air.

"We are committed to hosting a series of events during that week," Greening said. "The problem being right now is we are unsure if that will be in person or online at this time."

Taylor said Pride groups like the one on Fogo Island are focusing on how to move to online events, but are taking things one day at a time.

"It's going to be a challenge, but it's going to be good," Taylor said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from CBC Newfoundland Morning and The St. John's Morning Show