GANDER, N.L. – While Gander has flown the rainbow flag for the last number of years, July 16 was a monumental day for the LGBTQ community, as the central Newfoundland town held its first Pride Walk.
Courtney Slaney, with the Open Door Community Youth Network (CYN), said the group partnered with Gander Women’s Centre and the Town of Gander to host the flag raising and walk.
She was overwhelmed to later hear that some 300 people attended the flag raising to show their support, and that approximately 100 people took part in the walk.
“In the past we’ve put off other events and we never had a crowd like that,” she said.
As to what brought about the increase in numbers this year, Slaney said word had gotten out about the event and, given some of the negativity towards the LGBTQ community in other parts of the province, it likely inspired residents to come out and share in Gander’s message of acceptance.
“I definitely believe our town has been supportive of all individuals,” she said. “We still have a way to go, but as we mentioned during the event, we want everybody to feel they have a place here, whether you’re an immigrant, part of the LGBTQ community, or whatever you may be, we want you to fit in here.”
Liz Greening and Amy Keats attended in bright tie-dyed shirts to lend their support to that message. Having attended Pride events in other parts of the province, Greening was extremely pleased to see a walk talk place in Gander.
And while Greening acknowledged the central town has been accepting of the LGBTQ community, she said, “Gander really needed something like this to enhance that message.”
The two also spent time with Keats’ two children – six and four – having conversations about equal rights and taking part in activities such as the tie-dye shirts, and learning that “love is love” as a lead-up to the walk.