PEI

Why raising the rainbow flag is important to P.E.I.'s LGBTQ community

Members of P.E.I.'s LGBTQ community say they're feeling more support than ever, but the raising of the rainbow flag is still very important.

'I wanted to be here to show my support for other queer people'

The rainbow flag-raising ceremony marks the beginning of Pride Week on the Island. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

For members of P.E.I.'s LGBTQ community, raising the Pride flag is just as important now as it was when it first debuted in 1978. 

Several Pride flag-raising ceremonies marked the beginning of Pride Week on the Island including at UPEI, Charlottetown City Hall and HMCS Queen Charlotte, and in Souris.

For Dave Stewart, it was a reminder of the hardships those in the LGBTQ community still face. 

'We need Pride'

"If you look at the world situation, we're being thrown off rooftops, we're being stoned. In Russia, they're kidnapping us and beating us. So there are always reasons for Pride," he said.

Stewart also wrote an opinion piece for CBC P.E.I. about why he feels Pride is important.

The rainbow flag was created by artist Gilbert Baker in 1978 to reflect the diversity of the LGBT community. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

The celebration sets an important example for those younger than him, he said. 

"There are kids growing up in homes where they are assumed to be straight and they're not. And it's so easy to send the wrong message to kids simply by invalidating their lives."

Stewart said that while things are changing, there's still a need for the yearly event. 

"People are irritated that there's Pride. And as long as people are irritated that there's Pride, we need Pride."

'They care enough to show up'

Brittany Jakubiec, a founding member of the Queer Collective at UPEI, agrees with Stewart.

Wild Impulse stocked more items for Pride Week this year and now offers more items for transgender people. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

Jakubiec said she's happy with what the province has accomplished, but thinks more can be done in terms of inclusivity. She said seeing a substantial crowd at the flag-raising ceremony meant a lot to her. 

"It means that people are accepting and welcoming of all people on campus and they care enough to show up and to cheer and to be here for a really great ceremony."

The flag ceremony was a first for Tanner MacKinnon, a member of the UPEI Queer Collective.

"I wanted to be here to show my support for other queer people and to just let me know it's okay," MacKinnon said. 

Allison Wolvers, an employee at nearby retailer Wild Impulse, said the store stocked more Pride merchandise this year than ever before — and Wolvers believes there's more openness this year. 

"I think seeing where P.E.I. has come from in terms of having a visible LGBTQ people is amazing, considering that P.E.I. is notoriously known for being behind in the times. So it's nice to see that open visibility for everybody."

More P.E.I. news

Corrections

  • This story has corrected Tanner MacKinnon's name.
    Jul 24, 2018 8:59 AM AT

With files from Nancy Russell

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.