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Pride flag raised for first time in Oxford

OXFORD – The rainbow-coloured Pride flag made its debut on June 25, 1978 at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade.

Almost 40 years later, on June 13, 2018, the pride flag flew for the first time in Oxford, Nova Scotia.

“With the power vested in me as the mayor of the town of Oxford, I hereby proclaim it Pride Week in the town of Oxford,” said Oxford mayor Trish Stewart.

After the proclamation, Stewart, along with Cumberland Pride committee member Hailie Tattrie, helped Rogan Porter raise the pride flag to the top of the flag pole.

After the flag was raised, Porter, co-chair of Cumberland Pride, talked about what it means to have the flag raised in his home town.

“Today in our community marks Oxford’s first official pride flag raising,” said Porter. “I know that to many in attendance today this may seem like a small gesture, an act of gentle but easy acceptance, to come together today to fly a rainbow flag for a week in a day and age that has become steadily more progressive. But it’s so much more than that.”

As a transgender boy growing up in Oxford, Porter has felt the sting of being a member of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer) community.

“In my own lifetime I have been called an ‘it,’ a ‘he/she,’ a ‘sinner whose lifestyle is wrong,’ and those words have the power to tear down even the brightest of lights,” said Porter. “But today, Oxford is raising the symbol that sends the message to this community, ‘we see you, you are welcome here, you are safe here.’”

Although it’s been happening for 40 years, the raising of the rainbow flag continues to be very important to the LGBTQ community.

“As someone who has been out of the closet for over a decade I can’t explain what this means to the community. It’s not just a peaceful act of solidarity,” said Porter. “It mean’s life and death, it means prospering vs. failing; it means diverse souls can wake up and face tomorrow, even in a rural town like Oxford.

“So, on behalf of the LGBTQ community, and as someone who Oxford will always be my hometown, thank you and happy pride.”

Ruthie Patriquin, a longtime activist or sexual health and gender equality rights, is also proud that the Pride flag has been raised in her hometown.

“I’m so proud to see the Pride lag flying in my home town, and even prouder that, in our case, two Oxford Regional High graduates (Porter and Tattrie) made it happen for us in Oxford,” said Patriquin.

“No one should experience prejudice or discrimination, and that is why it is as important to raise the flag in small communities like ours as it is to raise the flag in larger areas,” she added. “Events such as this clearly remind us that LGBTQ persons are as much a part of the wonderful diversity of our lives here in Oxford as they are anywhere in the world.”

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