Small community shows big support for Pride

The Pride Parade in Victoria, on P.E.I.'s South Shore, may seem small by many standards, but that's not the point, says organizer Rachel MacLeod.

'Pride is about every day of every year supporting queer people and supporting pride'

Organizer Rachel MacLeod, left, holds a Pride flag alongside Jeanne Sullivan at the Pride Parade in Victoria. (Sean Young/CBC)

The Pride Parade in Victoria, on P.E.I.'s South Shore, may seem small by many standards but that's not the point, says organizer Rachel MacLeod.

The second annual parade last year had a few more than 70 participants — when the 2016 census recorded just 74 residents of the village.

MacLeod said it's important to have pride celebrations in rural areas.

"Pride isn't just about being in a city," she said.

"Pride is about every day of every year, supporting queer people and supporting pride really and just being an ally to all the queer people in your community. It doesn't matter what community it is — if it's small, if it's big — it's about support."

Organizer Rachel MacLeod says it is important to celebrate Pride in rural communities where members of the LGBTQ community live. (Sean Young/CBC)

The Pride by the Sea parade started at the top of Main Street in Victoria at noon Monday.

MacLeod said not everyone has access to transportation so it can be difficult to get people out to the celebrations, but it is important.

"This place has always been sort of a diamond in the rough. As small as it is, as rural as it is, this community has always been so open and so accepting."

MacLeod said she has worked in Victoria for seven years but has lived in the tiny nearby community of Breadalbane most of her life, where there was no Pride celebration.

Charlottetown-based drag queen Amber Flames takes part in both the Victoria and Charlottetown Pride parades every year. (Sean Young/CBC)

MacLeod said she remembers her first year celebrating in Victoria when someone came up to her and said, "I never thought I would see something like this in my community, and I'm not out yet."

That is what the celebrations are all about, she said — making people feel accepted in their community.

"I think that that is more important than throwing a huge party in a big city," MacLeod said.

'We support all people'

Charlottetown-based drag queen Amber Flames made it out to Victoria for the celebration.

"The small towns on P.E.I are growing and expanding and becoming more and more accepting," Flames said.

Flames goes out to Victoria every year just to show support.

"The parade out here is small and they are trying to grow and develop, and why not help them?" Flames said.

Holding events like this tells the larger LGBTQ community they are accepted and loved, Flames said.

"That's all we're looking for."

Many in Victoria and other Island communities marched on Monday in Victoria to celebrate sexual diversity. (Sam Juric/CBC)

Victoria Deputy Mayor Keith Dewar was on hot dog duty at the Pride event and he said it is important for the community to show acceptance.

"I think it is important to be out here to show as a community we support all people, all faiths, all sexual orientations."

He said he wants people to feel comfortable and just enjoy life in Victoria.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Sean Young


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