Ajax has unveiled a new fixture ahead of this weekend’s Pride parade, and members of the LGBTQ2 community say the town’s actions are making a meaningful impact.
“It’s queer pride. I’m so honoured that the town of Ajax did this,” said Jeff Schrader of Pride Durham.
Schrader, who came out in the ’70s, said he can barely hold back tears when he sees this new rainbow gazebo in Ajax.
“It shows that the Town of Ajax has pride in the people who show their pride by giving them a dedicated space which actually feels like a safe space for us now,” said Schrader.
“It means our community’s accepted and it’s taken a long time to get that far,” said Jayme Harper with PFLAG Durham Region.
That acceptance for the LGBTQ2 community comes in the form of the rainbow flag painted at the base of the gazebo.
“It’s a permanent symbol of support for Pride Durham,” said Shaun Collier, Ajax mayor.
Collier says Ajax preaches inclusiveness.
Last week, Bowmanville’s rainbow crosswalk was defaced three times within days of being laid down.
“That just shows the importance of doing things like this. That type of hatred and intolerance still exists in Durham, and it has no place in Durham. It has no place in Ontario, it has no place in Canada, and we’re stronger as a group,” said Collier.
Collier doesn’t think the gazebo will suffer any vandalism, though.
“I’m hoping where it’s located — under a shelter protection, not on a road — it’s a little safer out of harm’s way,” said Schrader.
WATCH (May 22, 2019): New rainbow crosswalk in Bowmanville vandalized
Meanwhile, the town has put up barriers to protect the gazebo until Sunday’s Pride festivities.
The park is also in a busy area near town hall, and there are surveillance cameras all around.
“This is a prominent area, a lot of people are going to see it,” said Collier. “I’ve had nothing but positive feedback on it.”
Arbour Park and the gazebo will be where the Pride parade and Durham Pride Week ends. Collier says he’s already looking at ways to build on it for next year.
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