This should have been the fifth year for the Kincardine Pride parade, an iconic event that first came to the community in 2017. Cancelled in 2020 and again this year, members of the Kincardine Pride committee have been challenged to keep Kincardine Pride top of mind while continuing to spread the word that Kincardine is a community that celebrates inclusiveness, diversity and love for all people, all in the midst of an pandemic.
“Because of the restrictions we couldn’t do any in-person events,” said president Fort Papalia, but even without the events, he is encouraged by the support and engagement the community has shown.
The committee kicked off Pride month with flag raisings (with limited attendance) in Kincardine at the library, the Davidson Centre and in Tiverton at the fire hall. Papalia was pleased to see municipal representation at all three sites and he said municipal staff has been very helpful coordinating events.
“The municipality at all levels is so supportive and happy to do anything to help,” said Papalia. “It dispels preconceived notions about small rural towns.”
On June 10, 17 and 24, KP presented a webinar with A.J. Adams, exploring what it means to be LGBTQ2+ in rural Ontario. Out in the Country can be viewed via a YouTube link found on the Kincardine Pride Facebook page. Papalia said the webinar has garnered much notice.
“The attention that (the video) has received has been phenomenal, with thousands of views,” said Papalia. “A.J. has had six or seven interviews on CTV, CBC and radio, among others.”
KP has been selling a variety of merchandise to support future events. It partnered with Chris Turcotte at Creative Casuals to sell tee shirts, and the first batch of 60 sold out quickly. It has also offered Pride masks (available at The Kincardine Independent), window clings and lawn signs, for sale at NPX Innovation on Queen Street for a donation. Papalia also hopes to have Pride representation with a table offering information and swag at this summer’s Promenade on Queen Street.
The virtual Trailblazers display, from the Bruce County Museum and created by the Canadian Centre for Gender + Sexual Diversity, , was created to showcase ordinary yet remarkable Canadians who have acted as a voice for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and advocated for equal rights and freedoms in Canada.
Paplai also published an information piece in local media entitled How to talk about gender, which he described as “exciting and an honour.”
Other initiatives this past month included a multi-denominational worship service celebrating diversity at Kincardine United Church and Rainbow Treats for a Change, a fundraiser for KP that invited local businesses to create and sell unique rainbow treats.
Papalia says KP also made a $1,000 donation to Rainbow Camp, with “the hopes that local youth, in particular LGBTQ youth, can engage and enjoy with other youth.” He says the money will be used to lower the fee for kids who would need assistance covering the regular fee of the virtual camp.
Papalia and the committee hope the fall will bring fewer restrictions, and allow for social and events to be held indoors as well as outdoors. In the meantime, you might find him running around town or on the trails, rainbow flag in hand and waving and chatting with passersby who cheer him on with honking horns and words of encouragement.
Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent