With June being Pride Month, Taber had its yearly series of weekly events celebrating and raising awareness of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. The first event of the week was LGBTQ&A held at the Taber Public Library on May 31. This event was to help educate parents on what they can do to help support their child in the event they come out as non-heterosexual or non-binary. Jamie Lewis, the presenter of this event, took a moment to speak about why this type of event is important.
“I am offering a talk/discussion event this evening where we are going to be discussing how we can better support 2SLGBTQ+ youths,” said Lewis. “Looking into topics like how can adults build safe spaces for youths, how can they respond if youths disclose different information about their sexuality and gender, information for you if they have questions about how they can better navigate, and how they can communicate with adults in a way to help everybody feel heard in the situation. It’s just an opportunity to kind of open up this discussion a bit. I know there’s a lot of maybe hesitancy around these topics and fear of getting it wrong. My hope in giving this kind of talk is to encourage people to just give it a shot and that there are always ways to figure out how to be there for each other.”
Lewis also discussed the importance of Pride Month.
“Pride gives us the opportunity to boost understanding and awareness about what it is to be a 2SLGBTQ+ person living in southern Alberta,” said Lewis. “To better understand the experiences the people are having, how we can support them differently and it also allows a sense of community to be formed whether that is between people with themselves are part of the community or allies. It kind of helps people know that they are not alone and better connect with one another.”
Andrew Prokop, mayor of Taber, was also in attendance at the event and when was asked for comment and he stated he hopes the week has tons of success across multiple events.
“June is the Pride Celebration Week in Taber,” Prokop said. “It has been for the last several years and I believe that timing-wise May 31 (was chosen) for this particular information shar- ing event. I wish the LGBTQ2S group success as always and all the best of luck with their event going forward on June 4.”
The first event was drag queen story time at the Taber Public Library. Srancheska Dynamite came back down to Taber from Lethbridge to read stories to the children at the library. After the event, Dynamite spoke about why she came back down to Taber for its pride event and what inspired her to become a drag queen in the first place.
“I was invited to be one of the drag queen readers and almost every year since 2017, Taber Pride always invites me to come here because this is where Srancheska Dynamite was born,” said Dynamite. “I came out in public to become a drag queen — that was the first Taber Pride 2017, if I am correct, and every year whenever they have an event, they always come and invite me. This is my first time doing drag in the Taber Public Library but I also do public readings in the public library in Lethbridge. I’m surprised with the support from the children and the parents that come. I’ve never seen drag queens before in the Philippines. When I had my first drag event at Lethbridge Pride, I saw people are happy, drag queens are happy, and the drag artist we are celebrating, and it was the people that looked happy and supported each other that inspired me to become a drag queen because I feel like I can do what they can do I can be happy like they are.”
Shortly after the drag queen story time event, the Taber Equality Alliance held their annual pride flag-raising event outside of the provincial building. Town Coun. Carly Firth was at the event as a representative of the entire Taber town council. After the flag was raised, Firth spoke about why she came out to this event.
“Well, it’s fun for one thing, but it’s so important that this happens in our community and I think this year people were really, really excited for it because it’s been so many years,” said Firth. “We’ve done the virtual thing, which was great, but this in person — and I love that the theme was together for pride — I came out because I think it’s important and I love to see it keep going and keep growing in our community. Thank you to the Taber Equality Alliance, like I said before, for so much for planning this every year it’s a big job, it’s a big event, but seeing it grow I hope they take that as encouragement. I think that it’s bigger and better every year and it’s always what you want an event.”
Finally, both co-chairs of the Taber Equality Alliance, Kathleen McKen- zie and Jayce Wilson spoke about the flag-raising event and the Taber pride events as a whole. “We are here just to be together, to show our support, but it is also like MP Shannon Phillips (Lethbridge-West) says it’s a protest and we’re here for representation to show that we are still here, we’re around,” said Wilson. “Also, like when the truck drove by really, really loud we’re here to be visible so that people are doing that, others who are too quiet can see that we are here.”
When McKenzie was asked about why they were hosting a pride event she said, “because love is love, and everybody deserves that right, and in Taber, they don’t have it without judgement. We are here to stand up for them.”
Ian Croft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Taber Times