Loading articles...

'A beacon for rural communities': Pride event in Southern Alberta perseveres despite petition

Last Updated Jun 1, 2019 at 5:09 pm MDT

TABER (660 NEWS) — This year when members and supporters of the LGBTQ community gathered in the town of Taber, located southeast of Calgary, there were no vehicles driving around trying to intimidate Pride revellers. The event, in its third year, has been the target of homophobia, and this year was no different.

An anonymous online petition was created on Change.org to influence Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter to stop the Pride flag from being flown in front of provincial buildings in the town.

The creator of the petition called the festivities sinful and asked that the town “Please let’s not celebrate whatever [sin] it may be.” At that time of publication of this article, the petition had garnered 1,109 signatures.

Participants like Alberta Liberal leader David Khan, who attended the event last year, says resistance to LGBTQ rights demonstrates why there is a need to fight harder to ensure equality for all.

“I feel very strongly that we need to support smaller town prides where they are facing more discrimination and where they are very courageously celebrating pride every year here in Taber,” Khan said.

“It’s a real beacon for rural communities across Canada.”

The event has been plagued by a series of setbacks over the past few years. In addition to the petition, Taber council turned down a request to fly the rainbow coloured pride flag on designated community flagpoles owned by the town. In 2017, the first flag that was flown was stolen and the replacement flag deliberately lit on fire.

A pride flag was deliberately burned in Taber in June 2017. Source: Ricardo Miranda/Twitter

“In the face of the adversity that we have faced, so far here in this town, we are showing that we are still here, we are present and that we want to make a difference in this community,” Jayce Wilson, co-chair of the Taber Equality Alliance Society, pointed out. “We want to be recognized as human beings and as people who have the same rights as everyone else.”

As Wilson points out, the reception from the community continues to be chilly. “Going into this pride, we were really hoping that we weren’t going to run into any issues or controversy with our pride flag,” she said. “But this year, like every other year, there has been controversy over raising our flag and going into it, we are just proceeding as normal.”

When the town council declined to fly the flag, former Infrastructure Minister Sandra Jansen invited the alliance to fly its Pride flag at the provincial building in Taber, where it was also flown this year.

Khan, who attended this year’s festivities, says two Taber council members along with the chief of police were in attendance.

“Pride started as a protest, and it should continue to be a protest and a fight for equality and LGBTQ rights around Alberta, across the country, and around the world,” he said.

“It’s really important for us to remember that even though we’ve made great strides, especially in the big cities, there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

With files from Crystal Laderas.