Pride and pandemic: How Minden Pride is going virtual
By Zachary Roman
year marks the fifth for Minden Pride – a cause for celebration. The
chair of Minden Pride, David Rankin, was hoping to work with the
anniversary and make this year’s Pride the biggest and best one yet.
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, an in-person Pride
is no longer a possibility.
While it was a disappointment for Rankin and the Minden Pride committee when they realized that Pride as Minden knows it could no longer happen this year, it isn’t going to stop them from preparing for an awesome week of events online.
at building on what had already been quite a successful year last year,”
said Rankin. “We had a lot of publicity, our attendance at events has
grown exponentially. We’re very pleased with where we’re going.”
This year, Minden Pride has added a suffix to its name. It will now be known as Minden Pride in the Haliburton Highlands, and is in the process of making a new logo to reflect this change – a change being made to highlight that Minden Pride has welcomed and will continue to welcome people from the entire county and beyond.
Minden Pride also had to adjust the ways in which they raise funds for this year in light of COVID-19 challenges. “As a committee, we made a decision that we were not going to seek sponsorship from [local] businesses because we knew that they’re undergoing significant financial pressure,” said Rankin. “We do have some access to some government funding and so we will be looking at relying on that … items that we previously exchanged for donation, such as our T-shirts, we’re looking at expanding some of those so that we can still have fundraising to help defray some of our costs and help us to move forward for, hopefully, a very social Minden Pride in 2021 as well.”
The Minden Pride committee is entirely volunteer
based. Rankin said that Minden Pride has a great volunteer base outside
of the committee as well. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, Minden Pride
hasn’t been able to meet with them yet, which has been a challenge since
they like to stay engaged with their volunteers, some who have
supported them from the very beginning.
“Pride in Haliburton County ... started off as a statement about [things occurring] that we were not happy with,” said Rankin. That same courage to take a stand is what helped kickstart the modern Pride movement and is as important as ever in today’s society.
“There has always been a little bit of a rocky relationship with the LGBTQ community and the general community. And that’s why Pride exists. Pride came out of a riot, much like what you see now happening with Black Lives Matter. You have to make a str ong stance, you have to let your message be very clear. And you have to stand up when we hear things that are contradictory to what we believe is right,” said Rankin. “It really was a riot – and they are called the Stonewall Riots – I only point that out because I think it’s significant [for people] to understand to what level the frustration of discrimination has reached.”
The Stonewall Riots began in the early hours of the morning on June 28, 1969, in response to a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in New York City. It was a nightly home to some of the poorest and most marginalized members of the LGBTQ+ community. On that night, resistance to the police’s violent and discriminatory treatment of bar patrons happened organically, a response to years of oppression. Lesbians and trans women of colour were some of the key people involved in the acts of resistance, including Stormé DeLarverie, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. The June 28 riot turned into days of resistance and was a catalyst for modern LGBTQ+ movements around the world.
Rankin said that Minden Pride has always been a celebration of Pride and the LGBTQ+ community – and that it became very social. With a laugh, Rankin noted that a virtual Pride is just not quite the same, in terms of the socializing element. “But we’re going to be able to do something. That’s really the bottom line for us,” said Rankin. “We are pleased that we’ll be able to … let people know that we’re here for them and that there’s still a voice for the LGBTQ community in Haliburton Highlands.”
Rankin said the Minden Pride
committee is focused on the virtual event and is trying to figure out
which events will work successfully and how to stage them. They have
slowly been announcing that Pride will be happening one way or another,
but hope to soon be able to announce specific events.
Rankin said that one of the key elements of Minden Pride is the flag raising and for this year’s virtual Minden Pride, it will be no different. “We’re looking at being able to put that on, to have that taped and perhaps to have some acknowledgement and some entertainment that can be made available,” said Rankin. “We are also looking at having a movie night … we’re looking at a trivia night, we’ve been speaking within the religious community about doing a multi-faith service.”
At Minden Pride’s past multi-faith services, which have been held at churches around Minden, representatives from different faiths have come to talk about how their faith intersects with Pride and the LGBTQ+ community. “A lot of the different religious organizations have been quite welcoming and very nicely been reaching out to us around what they can do to help support, especially with SIRCH,” said Rankin. “When we announced that we were going to go virtual, they said that they could certainly help in maintaining that presence that they’ve had which was quite nice news for us.”
Rankin always makes sure the communities that Minden Pride
interacts with are positive and supportive. Even with communities who in
the past may not have not had a full understanding of the LGBTQ
community, Rankin hopes that by working with them now they can help
foster a better understanding.
“Much like what you are hearing now with the Black Lives Matter movement, people are saying you need to listen. And that’s really as well what we want. And I think that’s what’s happened,” said Rankin. “We’ve been very pleased to see how the different faiths are listening to the LGBTQ community and are understanding who we are.”
Rankin said that in Minden, and in the
county at large, there has been a positive relationship between the
community and Pride. “There are a few business in Minden, who in honour
of [June] being Pride Month have some merchandise available that
reflects that,” said Rankin. “So that’s quite pleasing to see that the
community itself is embracing Pride and that’s really quite positive for
While things may be different this year for Minden Pride, Rankin wants the community to know that they aren’t going anywhere. “We literally are very happy that we’re going to be able to put on Pride this year, even if it is virtual,” said Rankin. “That’s really the message. We’re pleased that we can have a presence within the community and support the community and let them know that we’re here.”