Town Pride is on display at the Bradford West Gwillimbury Leisure Centre.
The town officially marked the start of Pride Month on Friday afternoon by holding a flag-raising ceremony, where a small crowd of more than a dozen people gathered in support of the 2SLGBTQI+ community and culture.
Before raising the Pride flag, David Di Giovanni, manager of cultural services at the Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library, spoke about why the ceremony was important to him.
“I’m a queer kid who grew up in the suburbs, and I just wanted to say that this actually means something and this actually matters, because when you’re a queer kid growing up in the suburbs, when you look around, you don’t always see spaces that are safe and inclusive,” he said.
He spoke about the importance of symbols and explained transgender youth are seven times more likely than others to consider taking their own lives, and that gay and lesbian youth are three times more likely.
“People ask, ‘Why do we still celebrate Pride?’ We still celebrate Pride because we still have a lot of safe spaces to create for our children, for our youths and for our queer community members who are here,” Di Giovanni said.
He added he is proud of the work the library is doing to celebrate Pride Month, including the Pride wall, drag queen story time, Pride social event and more.
Deputy Mayor Raj Sandhu said he was proud to be part of a council and town that is welcoming and inclusive.
“This community and this country is for everyone, and we have to embrace everyone and we have to talk about it,” he said before reading the proclamation officially stating June 2023 is Pride Month in the town.
After the ceremony, Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Scott spoke about Pride’s transition from protests to a celebration, but he cautioned there is still work to do.
“We’ve made a lot of progress as a society for the queer community, but we have to be vigilant and we have to provide opportunities for people to listen and learn from each other and ask questions and have a respectful dialogue as well,” he said.
When it comes to what work the town is undertaking to push forward, Scott referenced the efforts of the diversity, equity and inclusiveness advisory committee, the addition of the rainbow crosswalk downtown and the programming offered at the library.
“For municipal government, I think it’s about leadership and showing that everyone is included and there’s always a safe space for people,” he said.
South Simcoe Police Service Chief John Van Dyke was also present for the ceremony and praised the town for its ongoing efforts to recognize Pride Month, and he shared the town’s ideals of supporting diversity in the community.
“We believe that everybody has the right to feel safe and included and welcome in their community. As a police service, we promote diversity, equity and inclusion, both internally and in our communities, and we are happy to be here to support Pride Month,” he said.
More information about the town’s efforts to support diversity and inclusion, including the official Pride Month proclamation, can be found at townofbwg.com.
More information about upcoming events and inclusive programming at the library is available at bradford.library.on.ca.