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Edmonton mayor makes historic proclamation of Pride Corner on Whyte

Click to play video: 'Pride Corner on Whyte Avenue and Gateway Boulevard' Pride Corner on Whyte Avenue and Gateway Boulevard
WATCH (Aug. 11, 2021): Every Friday, a large group of LGBTQ community members and allies gather at the corner of Whyte Ave. and Gateway Blvd., waving Pride flags and carrying signs as part of a counter protest against long-time street preachers who broadcast their views against the community. Two of the movement's organizers, Erica Posteraro and Claire Pearen explain. – Aug 11, 2021

What started out as an effort to counter homophobic street preaching has grown into a show of support and inclusivity, and on Friday, Edmonton’s mayor officially proclaimed the corner of Whyte Avenue and Gateway Boulevard “Pride Corner.”

Every Friday, a group of LGBTQ2 community members and allies gather at that corner, some bringing along Pride Flags and music.

Organizers say that for about a decade, street preachers have chosen that particular spot to share “messages of condemnation” that are “quite queer-phobic” either on written signs or verbally.

Read more: Pride gatherings grow, petition to designate corner of Whyte Avenue

Pride Corner began as a counter-protest of sorts.

Organizer and founder Claire Pearson began counter-protesting out of concern for the high population of unhoused LGBTQ2 youth in the area.

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“While we are there to push back against harmful narratives, we saw a great need for queer, unhoused youth to have a place they could feel welcome and able to express themselves freely,” said Erica Posteraro, a member of the organizing team.

Read more: LGBTQ people often victims of violent hate crimes in Canada

“The positive power of having a safe space has allowed beautiful friendships to blossom, and having an official proclamation tells us what every 2SLGBTQIA+ person needs to hear: that we are seen, heard, accepted and supported.”

On Friday, the group celebrated the historic proclamation of the corner by Mayor Amarjeet Sohi on behalf of the City of Edmonton.

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The community-led initiative collected more than 10,600 signatures in support of designating the area as Pride Corner.

“There is a big population of unhoused queer youth in this area. We have Old Strathcona Youth Society, we have YESS just down the road and there are a lot of queer kids that live in this area,” said organizer Erica Posteraro.

“That was something I don’t think we really anticipated, all of the kids and teens showing up. And they make up the bulk of Pride Corner. I think they feel really safe and respected and welcome, which they maybe aren’t getting in other areas of their lives.”

“I’ve made a lot of friends here and I can fully be myself without being judged,” said youth leader August Redge.

Read more: LGBTQ youth need more supports and more say: Alberta child advocate

Now, the group said it looks forward to working with the city and Old Strathcona Business Association to “establish a permanent visual recognition of the proclamation.”

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