Amherst showed its pride on June 15 – big time!
Several hundred people took part in Amherst’s third Pride Parade and participated in an afternoon of events in Victoria Square to help celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.
For Mason Carter, the day was one he felt able to dress as he saw fit.
“Pride is still very much a demonstration, it is a showcase that we still have so much to work towards, and while I am beyond happy to live in Amherst because it is so much safer than some alternatives, I am still terrified to wear the clothes I enjoy in my school,” Carter said. “Classmates still think they can throw around slurs like it is nothing.”
Legally, Carter feels safe, but culturally there is a shift in progress that can make Amherst truly safer for everyone. While he’s appreciative of events such as the Pride Week celebrations, shifts can and will happen – and they have happened in Amherst.
“Just five years ago, when I was identifying as a woman, I was walking the streets with my girlfriend of the time, and in the short distance from Tim Hortons to the movie theatre we received so many looks, comments and gestures from people passing by us in cars and on either side of the street that we had to stop holding hands,” Carter said. “We were 12. Now, this year, I had my then boyfriend up and as we walked through Amherst, we received nothing, we were just another couple walking around Amherst. I can’t describe how much that warmed my heart to see my community grow so much in so little time. But, it is also important to remember that each and every one of us has a role in making this land feel safe for all people, queer people, people of colour, disabled people, religious minorities and any other marginalized group.”
Carter said the things people in the community can do to be more accepting are very easy, doable and literally take seconds.
Still, while significant gains have been made, Carter said, there’s much more work to be done and problems still exist. Politicians, for example, have gone from blocking bills that give queer people to right to exist to exploiting pride to their own advantage.
Carter said it’s important for people to simply show respect by addressing others the way they want to be be.
“Today is a day when we as a community come together and support our queer community,” Carter said. “We apologize for our past treatment and all of you must pledge to do your best to make Cumberland County a safe place for your queer kids and adults to come out and be who they are.”
Emma Brown, chair of Cumberland Pride, admitted to be blown away with the level of support shown throughout Pride Week and during the third annual parade.
“It’s overwhelming. I love seeing the love this community has and the support it is showing,” Brown said. “We’re only going to grow, but we’re going to get better.”
Brown said there’s still a lot of education and growing as a community, but she’s confident Amherst and Cumberland County will get there. She said young people are the key and that’s why it was important to have Carter and GSAs from several area schools leading the parade this year.
“Change is continuing to come,” she said. “Each year we have more community organizations and individuals getting on board and taking part.”
There were numerous events throughout the week including flag-raising ceremonies in Amherst, Oxford and at the E.D. Fullerton Municipal Building, while NSCC in Springhill also displayed the Pride flag.
Another event included the Haus of Jekyll that performed at Teazer’s Pub in Amherst on June 14 with two members – Eden Disorder and Miranda Wrights - performing following the Pride Parade in Victoria Square.