Yarmouth’s Pride Parade event will be held Saturday, Sept. 16, from 2 to 7 p.m. and will consist of a parade that will start on Argyle Street and proceed along Main Street to Coronation Park (Milton ballfield). The parade will be followed by food and entertainment at the park.
“The idea itself is actually pretty new, at least for us,” explains Cas LeBlanc, one of the organizers, when asked how this all came about. “It started as an LGBTQ+ Alliance group for the area a few weeks ago, and then Joey Benoit (one of the other organizers) had messaged me asking if I had any interest in organizing a parade as well. . . It made sense to put our heads together and try to get something happening.”
Also joining LeBlanc and Benoit as the main organizers is Megan Hatfield. They feel this event is important to increase awareness, understanding and acceptance.
“We still see prejudices against members of our LGBTQ+ community far too often. I personally, after having lived in many different provinces and large cities in Canada, thought my hometown could really benefit from this,” says LeBlanc. “I know far too often people are being ostracized here, and many youth are afraid to come forward with their feelings of confusion regarding their sexuality or identity.”
Asked how response to the event has been, LeBlanc says it has been overwhelming and positive. The organizers hope to make this an annual event.
“Our LGBTQ+ Alliance group on Facebook has over 300 members, and the parade has over 600 people interested. These numbers are climbing every day,” says LeBlanc. “It really warms my heart to see such a positive response and I am very grateful that so many people are interested.”
Anyone is welcome to participate in the parade.
“This is about alliances and unity because in greater numbers we will stand stronger,” LeBlanc explains. “Straight alliances are very important to the LGBTQ+ community. If you want to get a group of friends together and dress up and walk, we encourage it. We’re also looking for some businesses to partake in floats or walking groups as well, as it’s a great way to show your unity with the LGBTQ+ community.”
There is a $20 registration fee per group/float to help cover the parade insurance.
The alliance is also seeking donations and looking for event volunteers.
“We’re actively seeking a good group of possibly 50 volunteers or so. We’re hoping to divide up some tasks throughout our day of activities so that people can volunteer but also still enjoy what’s going on,” says LeBlanc.
People are needed to help with setup before the parade and to help with cleanup after the celebrations. The group is also interested in photographers willing to help document this Pride event.
They also are looking to provide live entertainment and hope food vendors will take part too. The food vendors must supply their own permits, LeBlanc says.
Volunteers also are being sought to hand out event flyers to help get the word out.
Anyone interested in volunteering can visit the LGBTQ+ Alliance Yarmouth group on Facebook – a Facebook event page for the Sept. 16 Pride event has also been set up – or they can email the alliance or contact any of the organizers.
Organizers are also reaching out to LGBTQ+ youth members of school groups to be involved.
“Part of the reason this was created was for people, and especially youth, to have a safe place to voice their concerns and be heard and taken seriously. If any youth involved in LGBTQ+ groups at any of the schools wish to be involved, please contact us,” says LeBlanc. “We want the youth to see it is okay to be you and they are not alone.”
Asked what organizers hope will be the main takeaway from this event and effort, LeBlanc says they just really want people to open their minds.
“Think about the things you say and the consequences they hold. Try to be more accepting and understanding. The LGBTQ+ people are an asset to many communities and are here to stay,” LeBlanc says. “Love will always win over hatred, and we’re hoping when people walk away from our parade and events they leave feeling that love. Unity and acceptance are such important things.”
PARADE APPLICATIONS FORMS:
Application forms for the Pride Parade can be accessed from Cas LeBlanc, Joey Benoit or Megan Hatfield. You can also email the alliance for more info or forms at firstname.lastname@example.org.