'A beacon of safety and love': Pride flag to go up at Arnprior town hall

For the first time in its history, the town of Arnrpior, Ont., will next month be flying the rainbow flag at its municipal headquarters.

1st time eastern Ontario municipality has raised rainbow flag

For the first time in its history, the eastern Ontario community of Arnprior, Ont., will be flying the rainbow Pride flag at its town hall. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

For the first time in its history, the town of Arnrpior, Ont., will next month be flying the Pride flag at its municipal headquarters.

The rainbow flag's presence is due primarily to a campaign spearheaded by Sophie Smith-Dore, a member of PFLAG Renfrew, whose own son came out a few months ago.

Smith-Dore told CBC Radio's All In A Day Wednesday that while her son's coming out was a "non-event" in their family, she believed it wouldn't be the same for the larger community.

So she started a campaign — first by crocheting "Pride badges" that town residents could sew on their clothes as a gesture of support, and then by taking the lead in convincing Arnprior's council to fly the flag at town hall.

'Some resistance'

"We understood that we were facing some resistance," Smith-Dore told CBC Radio's All In A Day on Wednesday.

"Some of the council members have spoken outwardly that this was not something that they would support. They would not support a parade, and they would not support a flag, because they felt it was too 'in the faces' of community members."

It's a historic win for the LGBTQ community in Arnprior. Next month, for the first time, the town will fly the pride flag and proclaim its inaugural Pride Week. 8:59

But when the time came for the flag proposal to be discussed at town council, Smith-Dore said the chambers were packed — not just with members of the local LGBT community, but also allies and supporters.

"It was overflowing! And it would have been a very awkward situation had council said no."

The flag will now be hoisted at town hall on June 7, and Smith Dore hopes that its presence sends a clear message.

"That this is a beacon of safety and love for the LGBT community in our town," she said. "And that there are many of us, and we're strong."