The start of June signifies the beginning of Pride Month, a month of celebration and reflection for the LGBTQ2 community.
Pride Month initially began as a protest in 1969 with the Stonewall riots in New York City, but has since become a celebration of inclusion and diversity.
“That celebration is still happening, and still based in protest,” says Brad Dies, M4M Sexual Health Coordinator, Trellis HIV & Community Care.
“It’s sort of a balance of the two. Making sure that we’re still doing advocacy, but also ensuring that we’re celebrating our successes, and celebrating being a community.”
Pride has evolved to include transgender and racialized people, as the community has adopted the new Progress Pride flag over the past few years.
Statistics Canada recently found that Kingston is the top gender-diverse city in the province, meaning pride has a significant meaning here.
“Kingston is a fairly progressive city,” says Dies.
“I think there’s always work to be done, I don’t think that will ever stop. Especially if you notice the sort of stuff happening south of the border right now, you have to really keep your eye on that. Some of that stuff filters up here, and we’ve always had prejudice, we’ve always had homophobia, and we’ve always had transphobia here.”
Just down the road in Napanee, the town will play host to its first-ever sanctioned pride event, scheduled to take place this weekend.
Events include a drag show, a Pride march and story sharing.
Organizers say Pride is being embraced by the Napanee community for its inaugural event.
Read more: Kingston Pride parade goes virtual in 2020
“We’ve had very little push back so far,” says Nina Irvine, communications director, Greater Napanee Pride Board.
“There’s always going to be people that are going to come out of the woodwork on Facebook and comment here and there. But for the most part everywhere we go, the response is pretty much ‘yes, what can we do to help’.”
Queen’s University has also raised its Progress Pride flag on campus, and the City of Kingston repainted the rainbow crosswalk in front of City Hall to show support during Pride Month.