Colourful flags blowing in the warm summer breeze were welcome sights to many people on P.E.I. Monday — especially those in the LGBTQ community.
"It says that you belong here, this is a safe space for you ... or at the very least, we're working on creating a safe space for you in this land," said Lucky Fusca of Pride P.E.I.
The P.E.I. Pride Festival is officially underway, and some municipalities marked the occasion with flag-raising ceremonies.
The festival has come a long way since it began 28 years ago, said 2022 festival director Tyler Murnaghan.
"It was definitely a lot smaller, there were many communities on the Island that just simply wouldn't respond to a flag-raising request, never mind even, say, take the time to say no to it. It's been amazing to see some of the communities really transform over the years and become more inclusive."
The week-long festival is packed with social events and education sessions that will bring people together, Fusca said.
"There are a lot of us, especially over the last few years, and especially for folks that have just moved recently to Prince Edward Island, haven't had the chance to actually meet a lot of folks within the community. So it'll be a great opportunity for folks that are new here to get out and and engage with one another. It's a great chance for those of us that have been here a little while to get back out and to see each other and share the love and solidarity."
It's not OK to be homophobic, to be transphobic — people have a right to live free and their own lives. — Tyler Murnaghan
It's a chance to celebrate progress, but Fusca and Murnaghan said more can be done — such as improved access to health care and more people using gender-neutral language.
"There's still a lot of gendered language being used in retail, service industry, there's gendered bathrooms pretty well everywhere in this city," Fusca said.
"There's so much work left to do, to educate people, to raise awareness of the issues that are happening," Murnaghan said. "It's not OK to be homophobic, to be transphobic — people have a right to live free and their own lives."
The week is a lot of work for a team made up of mostly volunteers, they said, and they will also be asking for funding to help them do more, and to hire someone to work full-time, year-round to raise awareness.