Participants at this year’s Thunder Pride event gave the city a passing grade for being open to the LGBTQ community.
Hundreds attended the concert portion of the second annual weeklong event held at Prince Arthur’s Landing on Saturday. Many took advantage of the various food booths or looked at works of art by local artist or simply enjoyed being outside.
But those who spoke with Tbnewswatch.com said it was important to show support for the Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender community.
Gerald Walton moved to Thunder Bay from Vancouver and said he would give the city a B minus for being open to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community.
He attended the event last year and said it was an event long overdue and the city still has a long way to go.
“The other events I’ve been to have been well organized, well planned,” Walton said. “It’s a good week for Thunder Bay. The thing about an event like this is that it brings visibility to society for people who are otherwise not that visible. A week like this is not only important for the community at large but also for people attending. Gay, straight is doesn’t matter it is all good. We still need to be visible outside of this event and outside of this day.”
Having come from a bigger city, he said it’s difficult to judge whether his hometown is a safer city to come out in. Someone in Vancouver could be just as easily beat up there as they could in Thunder Bay, he said.
Trish McNeil moved to Thunder Bay in January from Peterborough, Ont. and said she attended many of the Pride events there and wanted to check out the city’s various of the event. She gave the city a B plus and said she was impressed that the city had an entire week decided to Thunder Pride.
“(Thunder Pride) is larger because (Thunder Bay) has a higher population here,” McNeil said. “(The events) are very similar. There’s a small town, community atmosphere. I like Thunder Bay. It is completely different from what I’m used to.”
Julie Mcardle volunteered for the first time at Thunder Pride because she said she wanted to show support for her friend and for the event. Her letter grade for the city was a B.
“It’s a very important event in Thunder Bay and it is growing,” Mcardle said. “I think it is very important to support the people and the community. When I lived in Thunder Bay originally I would say it wasn’t very open but I’ve been back for four years now and I have seen it increasingly open. It’s definitely getting better.”
Event coordinator Cynthia Olsen said they already feel that they have doubled the numbers from last year with most of the events that happened throughout the week being crowded and well received.
She said the main message she hoped to get across is everyone should be free to be who he or she are.
The Ontario government recently passed a piece of anti-bullying legislation that allows groups or clubs to from Gay-Straight Alliances in both the public and Catholic school boards. The province also made changes to the Ontario Human Rights code that forbids discrimination against gender identity.
Olsen said she believes politicians are becoming more aware of how important it is to be open about the LGBTQ community.
“I think it is great legislation that has passed and I think there will be more to come,” Olsen said. “I would hate for us to think that we ought to stop at that. I think the movement is going further and further and it is making opportunities for people who didn’t have an opportunity before.”
The concert goes until 6 p.m. followed by a pub crawl starting at the Black Pirate’s Pub. More details about the pub crawl can be found at the Thunder Pride 2012 website.
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