From Muskoka Pride:
Once again, all of the communities in Muskoka have raised the Rainbow Pride flag in celebration of Muskoka Pride Week, which runs July 14 – 24.
The Townships of Muskoka Lakes, Georgian Bay, and Lake of Bays, Wahta First Nation, and the towns of Huntsville, Bracebridge, and Gravenhurst all raised the flag again this year.
The ceremonies were attended by more people than last year, with all pandemic restrictions removed. All mayors and members of Council extended their best wishes for a successful and celebratory week of Pride events.
Bracebridge Mayor Rick Maloney expressed his pleasure in raising the Progress Pride flag. He wished everyone a happy Pride Week and that he is “looking forward to the great parade in Bracebridge this Sunday” and he encouraged all to “keep Pride in our minds and keep that rainbow flag flying.”
In Gravenhurst, Deputy-Mayor Heidi Lorenz welcomed the people in attendance on behalf of Mayor Kelly and Council. She said that she happy to raise the Pride flag and encouraged all to “get our and show your Pride and check out the events” including several upcoming events in Gravenhurst.
Wahta Chief Phillip Franks welcomed everyone to the recognition of Pride Week, amidst a cheering crowd of community members and children participating in the summer day camp program.
Gerogian Bay Mayor Peter Koestier wished everyone a “Happy Pride Week, and to enjoy all the colours as you enjoy our beautiful area.”
Muskoka Lakes Mayor Phil Harding expressed his pleasure to be able to raise the Pride flag. He stated, “We are an inclusive community and I encourage you to be inclusive as well.”
The Progress Pride Flag symbolizes the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community with the many colours representing the diverse community. The new flag, designed in 2018, specifically heightens awareness of marginalized groups within
the LGBTQ+ community (queer people of colour and people who identify as trans or gender-diverse) who still face discrimination in their daily lives.
For Merv Taylor-Morin, President of Muskoka Pride, the flag raisings are a symbol of acceptance of the LGBTQ+ population of Muskoka. “It says to the people in Muskoka that our community is diverse and inclusive, an important message for residents and visitors.”
He stressed the need for the flag raising’s visibility within Muskoka. “It’s important for all people to see it and know that they’re welcome in their own communities.”
“It is significant that all communities of Muskoka are recognizing the Muskoka Pride Week,” says board member Shawn Forth, “because there are LGBTQ+ residents all over Muskoka, who want to feel supported by their town.”
Having grown up in Muskoka, he understands the feeling of isolation that comes with thinking you are alone. “Visibility is important for the LGBTQ+ community so that you don’t feel isolated. LGBTQ+ Pride is not just about tolerance and acceptance – it’s about celebrating the rich diversity in our community.”
This year’s Pride Week theme is “Onward – Upward – Together” which reflects the need for the LGBTQ+ community and allies to stand together in the face of increasingly vocal acts of homophobia and intolerance. It is also intended to represent the positive feelings of making it through the pandemic and returning to a Pride Week with a sense of normalcy after 2 years of gathering limitations.
Everyone, no matter how you identify, is welcome to attend any Muskoka Pride event.
Muskoka Pride Week is Presented by The Government of Canada (Canadian Heritage). We would like to thank our Silver Sponsors: The Town of Bracebridge, YWCA Muskoka, TD Ready Commitment, Muskoka Bay Resort, and Deerhurst Resort. We would also like to acknowledge our Bronze Sponsors: McMaster’s Muskoka, Lakeland Netorks and our Media Sponsor: Star Metroland Media.
To see a full schedule of events go to www.muskokapride.com or click “Events” on the Muskoka Pride Facebook Page.
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