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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.”