Eastern Shore Pride building solidarity, community

·2 min read
Brenda Hattie moved to the Eastern Shore in 2018. She's the co-chair of Eastern Shore Pride. (Victoria Welland/CBC - image credit)
Brenda Hattie moved to the Eastern Shore in 2018. She's the co-chair of Eastern Shore Pride. (Victoria Welland/CBC - image credit)

The Eastern Shore Pride parade wound through the streets of Musquodoboit Harbour, N.S., on Saturday, and this time it was the biggest yet.

It's only the second year the area has held its own Pride celebrations.

It started when Brenda Hattie moved to the area in 2018. She decided to have a Pride party at her house.

To Hattie's surprise, cars lined up and down the street.

"That's where we started talking about doing a Pride, like a real Pride in the community," Hattie said.

Hattie, co-chair of the festival, said there were only two days of events last year. There were nine this year and all were well attended, organizers say.

"We're creating community together because we get together to create this kind of stuff and then we meet more and more queer people," Hattie said. "And so we're building a kind of … family out here."

People sat on their tailgates and lawn chairs to cheer on the parade as it moved down Highway 7. Floats included the fire department, Nova Scotia Health and a seniors' dance organization.

Victoria Welland/CBC
Victoria Welland/CBC

Ever McCulloch was part of a float for a youth music and theatre group called the Young Performers Collective. McCulloch said having a Pride festival in their home community makes them feel safe and accepted.

"I get to celebrate who I am and be so proud of that which, years ago, I wouldn't have been," said McCulloch. "I don't have to be confused anymore and I don't have to be afraid because I see so many welcoming people."

Parade organizer Jude Major said there has been ample interest from the community in volunteering and contributing to Pride.

But the fight isn't over.

During a parking lot painting event on Friday, volunteers and participants were harassed and called homophobic slurs by a man driving nearby, Major said. She said law enforcement is taking the incident seriously.

"I choose not to operate from a position of fear," said Major. "I choose to operate from a position of being aware of my surroundings and what's going on … in this specific community and in the larger world."

Victoria Welland/CBC
Victoria Welland/CBC

Major has been doing work like this for decades. Despite Friday's incident, she said it's been encouraging to see attitudes change and interest go up over the years.

"It just seems that there's not the kind of bias and fear and homophobia or whatever that there used to be," said Major.

"There's a lot more openness, understanding, and people accept each other, which really is what it's about."