Town officials refused to recognise Pride Month because it didn’t include ‘Straight Pride’. So locals got creative

Josh Milton July 1, 2020
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Cars packed a road in Emo, Ontario, Canada, as part of an Pride 'ambush' after town officials asked why there is no 'Straight Pride'. (Borderland Pride)

Cars packed a road in Emo, Ontario, Canada, as part of an Pride 'ambush' after town officials asked why there is no 'Straight Pride'. (Borderland Pride)

Residents at a northwestern Ontario, Canada, township tied vibrant balloons to the hoods of their vehicles, tossed blankets and unfolded flags before buckling their seatbelts and driving.

Around 70 vehicles skimmed down the highways of Emo to attend the town’s Pride parade last Saturday (June 27). A Pride parade that shouldn’t have happened. Not because of coronavirus, which has cratered Pride calendars worldwide, but because of municipal councillors.

Town officials rejected a resolution to recognise June as Pride Month, nor would that flag LGBT+ flags for the community 1,3000 residents to see. It came after mayor Harold McQuaker, with the support of half of councillors, shot down the bills – they reasoned that if there was no “Straight Pride” flag flown, then there should be none at all.

But Emo locals refused to let the council extinguish their Pride march, so Borderland Pride – a network of LGBT+ groups across northwestern Ontario locales – arranged to “ambush” Emo with a parade.

Councillors shot down Emo Pride as there would be no ‘Straight Pride flags’.

“It means the world to me,” drag king Jack Doff told local media.

“I come from small communities myself and moving to Fort Frances and the surrounding area I was a little worried I would have to keep myself back in the closet.

“For the most part there has been a lot of outpouring of support, but recently some decisions of council members of Emo and the mayor have reflected there are attitudes that still exist that need to be changed, we need more acceptance.”

Organisers were euphoric throughout the day, watching as cars jammed thoroughfares and packed a parking lot for a day of fun and celebration.

Photobooths were set-up my organisers, while Pride-goers held signs up reading “The gay agenda is brunch” or “Mask for Masc”.

“This confirms what we knew all along,” said Douglas Judson, co-chair with Borderland Pride.

“We knew the decision not to welcome and embrace pride in this community wasn’t in touch with the community itself.

“At last count we had 65 or 70 loads of vehicles of people here waiting to show they are here for an inclusive community and that is what they want to demonstrate.”

Pride networks and community leaders file legal action against town officials. 

After all, Emo’s mayor along with councillors Harold Boven and Warren Toles voted against the town throwing a Pride parade.

“We have one flagpole and there’s no flag being flown for the other side of the coin,” McQuacker said during the meeting.

“There’s no flags being flown for the straight people.”

But as much as officials tried to ward off the celebration, the communities came together.

Some attendees drove some three hours to make the parade from hinterland communities such as Thunder Bay of Windsor.

As a result of town officials stonewalling the event, Borderland Pride, with Northern Ontario Pride Network, are now seeking to file a human rights challenge against Emo’s township, according to the application filed to courts.

The complaint filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario alleges discrimination by Emo municipal council and seeks an apology from the municipality.

Related topics: Canada, emo, ontario, Pride month, straight pride

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