If you’re looking for a drive this weekend, consider taking in Brockville’s second annual Pride parade this Saturday July 21.
This small town’s Pride day has a family focus. It began last year when Brockville youth, of all sexual orientations, came together to plan the inaugural event, a pride walk.
City Councillor Leigh Bursey supported and marched in last year’s walk despite some opposition from the community.
“I took a lot of heat for it, but we had a great day,” says Bursey.
Bursey, who at 25 is the youngest member on the ten-person Brockville town council, went to bat for this year’s expanded pride week events. Bursey convinced the mayor and other council members to declare July 16 to 22, 2012 Pride Week in the city of 22,000.
According to Bursey, focusing on the family is central to a successful pride in Brockville,
This is a community that’s doing its best to be progressive, but also holds conservative values. Finding common ground is a challenge.”
Bursey says opposition to this year’s events has included letters to the editor in the local paper and emails to the city in response of its endorsement of pride.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve had a lot of opposition, but I will say it’s been loud,” says Bursey. “People have different opinions. I like to think their misunderstanding, hatred and vocal ignorance is just a reminder why events like these are so important.”
Bursey explains that the initiative for pride week came from the tragic loss of local youths to suicide after experiencing homophobic bullying. He hopes that pride week can be an opportunity for the whole community to come together to support LGBTQ youth and to accept them as part of the community.
“If they have children, they can bring them,” he says. “We want to eliminate the misconception that this is not an event for the whole community. It’s all about education, changing perspectives and opening minds. This isn’t a public spectacle, this is a celebration.”
In addition to the events on Saturday, Brockville Pride week events include a potluck dinner and presentation by local trans speaker Calvin Neufeld on Thursday night, along with a pub-crawl and a boat cruise on Friday night.
The parade starts at noon at the Brockville Armoury, 232 King Street East followed by a community fair with entertainment until 3 p.m. at Hardy Park on Water Street.
For more information visit https://sites.google.com/site/pflagcanadabrockville/events/brockville-pride-week, or the Brockville Pride 2012 facebook page.