Kawartha Lakes Pride picnic draws hundreds to Victoria Park

By Jamie Morris

Kawartha Lakes Pride picnic draws hundreds to Victoria Park
Pride picnic organizers, Carrie Pearson and Matthew Maddox.

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.

Kawartha Lakes Pride picnic draws hundreds to Victoria Park
Cindy, Nicole, and Cohen Newhouse. Cohen is 11-weeks-old.

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.”

1 Comment

  1. Anon says:

    Too bad more folks don’t practice inclusion or treating others as they would like to be treated when excluding others. For example, I would like to see the city stop it’s practice of meeting in secret to condemn a volunteer for some alleged wrongdoing it refuses to provide details of and that it refuses to provide the volunteer the opportunity to answer to. How unfair is that? I would also like to see the workplace mobbing tactic of a group ambushing an unsuspecting individual target to try to intimidate him/her to stop too. The city claims to support initiatives in support of good mental health but appear entirely oblivious to how these sorts of corporate bullying practices can literally drive a target to suicide. Nothing cuts deeper than a mob laughing at the individual they have driven to the precipice who has nowhere left to go except to jump into the abyss. Is that how they want others to treat them when they lose all their family to tragedy and are all alone and vulnerable to being made an escape goat by malicious lies? Ask David Adams Richards who writes with some clarity about exactly these sorts of very current and very local realities.

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