Minden shows its pride, flying rainbow flag
By Darren Lum
Published Aug. 24, 2017
With an acknowledgement of the past, Minden is moving forward to a society of inclusiveness marked by a swelling of support at the township’s rainbow flag raising ceremony on Monday, Aug. 21.
Guest speakers were moved close to tears, as they delivered speeches at the first of a series of events for Minden Pride Week, organized by the Minden Pride committee.
Minden Hills Councillor and Minden Pride committee member Pam Sayne spoke haltingly, choking back tears referencing the Minden Times article “Growing up gay in Haliburton County” about Minden Pride’s co-chairperson Sinclair Russell, 73, who talked about his experience growing up in the area during the 1950s. He is son to Sinclair Russell and Mable (nee Prentice).
“The recent coverage in the local papers is heartfelt,” she said. "As I read the interview with Sinclair Russell, I unexpectedly found myself overwhelmed with emotion. I was choked up, tears running down my face to my own surprise. I couldn’t continue reading. I was just so choked up. I had to swallow my emotions to get through this article. Why was I choked up? I was choked up, I realized, because homophobia, racism and other socially constructed fear-mongering are not incidents that just happen on some days. They’re not just headlines in the local paper. They’re not just words randomly uttered in places. They define ways of life. They define an oppression that is constant. Usually unrecognized, insidious to our humanity.”
She presented the co-chairs Russell and Paul Roy with flowers, recognizing their efforts to lead the committee in organizing the week’s pride events.
In contrast to last year’s flag raising when barely a dozen people came (in part because of the sudden announcement), this year’s drew more than 50 people of all ages to the township office. They showed their support for inclusiveness, signed a rainbow flag with a maple leaf in the centre, and watched the rainbow flag raised, kicking off the week of Minden Pride events. The week concludes with the Pride Picnic on Sunday, Aug. 27. The flag will fly for the week.
Russell spoke with pauses, appearing to fight back tears, about his appreciation for the ceremony and said the rainbow flag has a relevance to everyone.
“We’re not just talking about gay pride. We’re talking about pride in general and being inclusive to everybody,” he said.
Russell also touched on the flag’s creator, Gilbert Baker, an American inspired by Harvey Milk, who advocated for human and civil rights in San Francisco. Milk became the first openly gay person to hold a high public office in a major American city. He was assassinated at City Hall in 1978, but his death became a rallying cry for the gay community.
According to the CBC, the flag’s six bands of colour are representative of traits: red represents life, orange is healing, yellow is sunlight, green is nature, blue is serenity and violet is spirit.
MP Jamie Schmale spoke after Russell, reminding the audience about what we all share rather than what makes us different.
“Spread the word no matter who you love, who you worship, what colour your skin is, we all share this planet. We’re all here together so let’s come together ... we are one so thank you for continuing to be here and promoting this. I hope to see this grow each and every year and get it bigger and more inclusive. Just bring the community together,” he said.
MPP Laurie Scott concurred with Schmale’s comments about inclusivity and recognized the town’s efforts.
“It doesn’t matter about anything – religion, race or colour. It doesn’t matter. We’re all inclusive. That’s what makes a good society, good communities, good province and good country. A good example for the rest of the world. You here in Minden today are doing that,” she said.
Brent Devolin also referenced the Times’ article, characterizing it as, “touching.”
Devolin, who grew up here, addressed Russell’s implied discretion.
“You’re very kind. I’m sure growing up there are some things you might have said, but you didn’t,” he said. “We’re here about where we are today and where we can go. We’re about an inclusive community here ... I come from a faith history. You love and care for your neighbour. You love and care for all your neighbours. That’s why we’re here today. So, I’m very proud to be part of the second annual raising at Minden Hills.”