A flag raising at Barrie City Hall today, from a new organization with already established roots.
Wednesday’s noon-hour rainbow flag raising represented the first for a new Barrie Pride, following a top-down restructuring in April. One of the new additions to Barrie’s LGBT voice is Jessie Lawson. “Definitely, we’re building on the traditions and fabulous work that’s been put into it by our co-chair David Bradbury, and many other folks over the past five years.”
Lawson was at City Hall for the flag raising on Wednesday, joined by representatives from all levels of government. That included Deputy Mayor Barry Ward, who tells Barrie 360 lots has been done to support the LGBT community. “I went to high school in the ’70s, and either I went to school with no gay kids, or they were afraid,” said Ward. “One of the great things about this (flag raising) is the normalization it has. I remember the first flag raising we had in 2003 or 2004, there was a bit of controversy; some people in Barrie were upset by it. I think we’ve made enough progress as a society and here in Barrie, that nobody is upset by it now.” He added more work needs to be done towards a more accepting society.
Meanwhile, Lawson and the rest of Barrie Pride are busily planning a Pride Parade for mid-August. “There’s definitely a lot of paperwork involved; there’s a lot of permits, a lot of liability insurance, allowances… but we’ve been really lucky that everybody we’ve worked with at the Creative department at the City has been wonderful.” Having just been newly re-established in April, Barrie Pride missed some deadlines to have events during June, traditionally recognized as Pride Month across the land.
Despite this, plans are firming up for the August 17th parade; Lawson already knows what to expect. “Bigger, better, rainbows, brighter, happier people, lots of celebrating.” she adds the City of Barrie has already provided a fitting end to the parade this year. “We’re hoping the parade will be able to march across that Rainbow Crosswalk for the first time ever. We imagine it to be fabulous. We’re super happy with Council and with Keenan for helping that come about.”
Barrie Pride is still accepting applications for participants in this August’s parade. Lawson says it’s pretty easy to have a presence there. “If you’re a Partner in Pride, or if you’re a religious group or a non profit, it’s free for you to be in the parade.” She added sponsors are still being accepted at Barrie Pride’s website.
Meanwhile, those with Fierté Simcoe Pride have picked up festival duties in Barrie this year, with a big to-do planned to cap off two weeks’ worth of celebrating.