A little rain, a little sun gleaming through. It was perfect rainbow conditions for the fourth annual Kawartha Lakes Pride Picnic, held Saturday in Victoria Park, and though no rainbows formed overhead, they were everywhere at the picnic — on banners, clusters of balloons, this year’s t-shirts and even painted onto children’s cheeks.
Despite the occasional shower, the event was well-attended. “Attendance has doubled since our first picnic,” notes Carrie Pearson, one of the event organizers (the other is her friend, Matthew Maddox). “Each year we have more and more service providers and vendors.”
This year’s picnic included lots to please visitors. There was music from Evangeline Gentle and her band. For kids there was face-painting, games and Zoo to You critters. Ben’s Kettle Corn gave away samples and Kawartha Dairy had donated ice cream.
But there was an important message as well, about the importance of inclusiveness and respect for differences.
As Colleen Collins, executive director of the Lindsay & District Chamber of Commerce (a major sponsor along with TD Bank), pointed out, “It’s not just about the LGBT community. It’s about everybody. We’re all different, and if the golden rule is to treat others as you’d like to be treated, the platinum rule is to treat everyone as they would like to be treated.”
Since last year’s Kawartha Lakes Pride picnic the Chamber (with Maddox on its Board) has promoted an LGBT-friendly community through a diversity initiative involving 30 businesses.
A broad variety of local organizations had displays at the picnic. For the public library it was displays of LGBT-interest books, magazines and other resources. The CMHA had pamphlets on their Gender Journey program (programming, education and support for transgender, 2-spirit, gender diverse and individuals who are questioning their gender identity).
Next to the library’s table was Amnesty International with petitions to support victims of LGBTI persecution in Russia, the US and elsewhere in the world — a reminder that there’s still a long way to go in eradicating homophobia and hate.
A partial list of other organizations with a presence at the Kawartha Lakes Pride picnic would include A Place Called Home, Big Brothers/ Big Sisters, Women’s Resources, the Labour Council and Job Quest.
Two organizations deserve special credit. Cambridge Street United Church volunteered at the picnic and their involvement was a lead-up to a special Pride Celebration Service held Sunday at the church. The NDP reached out to the organizers to get involved and to have an information table.
In addition to all of these community organizations showing support, there were also groups specifically for the LGBT+ community. At one table were teens from Queer Youth of Kawartha Lakes, a group for 14 to 22 year olds that meets at the Boys & Girls Club. Next to them was PFLAG, a group of parents and friends of LGBT+ individuals.
Some had arrived from other communities. Transforum (from Belleville), Peterborough Pride, and Muskoka Pride all had displays. (Muskoka Pride is celebrating its 10th year and on Friday, July 20th, will be holding its first parade in Huntsville.)
A successful event, and organizer Matthew Maddox was quick to thank the volunteers and the various businesses and organizations from around the Kawartha Lakes for their support. “It’s important for us to acknowledge the businesses who have donated to the event, so people in the community know that these are places where they can go after the picnic and feel welcomed. The generosity is overwhelming.” A complete donor list is posted on the group’s Facebook page.
Lots to take pride in, and to take satisfaction with. But asked what gave her the greatest satisfaction, Carrie Pearson, who is an elementary school teacher, had this to say: “I love seeing all of the kids and young people feeling safe to be themselves and having fun.”