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Bay of Quinte Pride week opened in Picton

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Pride week kicked-off Saturday morning in Picton’s Benson Park with a market and family-friendly activities.

The event, put together by Bay of Quinte Pride and the Picton Business Improvement Association, featured LGBTQ and allied businesses, merchants and non-profits.

“This is a really big deal for us at Bay of Quinte Pride,” said John-Ross Parks, chair of Bay of Quinte Pride, who said they have recently expanded to include Prince Edward County and Quinte West. Parks was happy to see the level of engagement in Picton, and remarked how the event was pulled together in a short amount of time.

He said this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood of Manhattan was raided by local police, sparking a riot and six days of protests.

“It started our revolution in the world and the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada,” said Parks. “In 50 years, we have come a really long way, and we have a really long way to go.”

Events like this, showing up and being seen is the best way to help push this agenda forward said Parks. “To make inclusivity of everyone, be they gay, lesbian, trans, two-spirit, people of colour, women, we don’t care, everyone should be included.”

Recently installed rainbow pride flags adorn lampposts along Picton’s Main Street and will remain in place for the summer.

In 2017 Prince Edward County won a LGBTQ+ tourism marketing award from Travel Gay Canada.

The Picton BIA decided that to continue with the message of inclusivity, “it would be appropriate to purchase pride banners to show residents and visitors alike this is a community that welcomes diversity,” said Sarah Doiron, BIA Manager.

PEC mayor Steve Ferguson, Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis and MPP Todd Smith at the kick-off to pride week.

Opening ceremonies included brief remarks from Prince Edward County mayor Steve Ferguson, Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis and MPP Todd Smith.

“This started 12 years ago in our community in Belleville, and 10 years ago we started the parade,” said Ellis. “When John-Ross said he wanted to expand into Picton and the County, I thought what a great idea,” said Ellis, who added the riding has come a long way in the past 12 years.

Smith thanked John-Ross for ensuring Prince Edward County feels the love, noting just how inclusive a society we are.

“You can come here [to Canada] and practice whatever religion you practice, love whoever you want to love, be whatever colour you are,” said Smith.

“This celebration is an illustrationary example of what makes Prince Edward County such a wonderful place to live, work and visit,” added PEC mayor Steve Ferguson.

Five-year-old Vada and three-year-old Franklin McGinnis of Picton with freshly-painted faces.

Afternoon activities in the park continued with live music, yoga and a mobile sauna. The family-friendly programming also involved face painting and giant games for the kids.

Bay of Quinte Pride Week runs June 1-8. Prince Edward County pride events included yoga and sound practice with Wild Heart Healing Arts Monday, a queer film “Giant Little Ones” at The Regent Theatre on Wednesday, followed by queer karaoke at The County Canteen, and wraps up with a pride patio party on Friday at 555 Brewing Co.

The finale of Bay of Quinte Pride is Saturday, June 8, with a parade beginning at Empire Square in Belleville, which will travel along Front Street to Zwick’s Centennial Park.

 

Selling Girl Guide cookies were Brianna Warr-Hunter, and Ruby, age 11, of Girl Guides of Canada, who were also keen to promote the organization to families attending. Picton’s pride market vendors.

The pride flag is displayed on lamp posts along Picton’s Main Street.

 

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