Kemptville Pride parade paints the town in rainbow colours

Above, Three of the twelve main organizers of the Kemptville Pride Parade. RUDG Founder Holly Brown (in the wheelchair), pushing Holly is youth volunteer Amy, and walking beside them is Devon Warren. Photo courtesy of Painted Turtle Photography.

Kelsey Smith
Nation Valley News

KEMPTVILLE — Kemptville was painted a sea of colours as the inaugural Kemptville Pride Parade marched through town, June 1.

Over 1,000 spectators lined the streets of Kemptville’s downtown core, last Saturday as the Rainbow Union Dundas and Grenville (RUDG) hosted the first-ever LGBTQ2-friendly parade.

Founder of the Rainbow Union Dundas and Grenville Holly Brown of South Mountain was overwhelmed by the success of the premier event.

“We had over 300 marchers in the parade and well over 1,000 people that watched!” she explained.

“It was a very, very positive day! It was a very emotional day though too.” she added.

Brown told Nation Valley News that pride parades in a city is one thing, but pride parades in rural communities such as Kemptville are even more necessary and emotional.

She explained that people from the country who are gay or transgendered tend to be more “closeted” or if they are “out” are often bullied more so than if they lived in the city.

“In fact I was speaking with one couple who used to live in this area but moved to Toronto because of the bullying they were experiencing. They heard about the Pride Parade and travelled all the way from Toronto to come back and show the youth today that it’s going to be ok!”

Many people of the LGBTQ2 community fear publicizing their ‘true selves’ because of the possible repercussions.

One marcher nearly backed out because of fear for his safety. It wasn’t until Brown made him aware of the huge police presence there would be that he felt safe enough to go through with it.

No one was really sure how the whole situation would ‘pan out’.

To Holly and the committee’s surprise, it couldn’t have gone any better.

“I was completely amazed and excited to see the number of youth who walked and watched,” she said.

“To me that’s the best part of it all!” she boasted.

“Youth today are more open to the LGBTQ2 community than the adults,” she stated.

One of the youth volunteers was very affected by the parade.

“The event made her feel proud of who she was for the first time. She didn’t have and self-doubt for that day. And that’s why visibility matters!” Brown said excitedly.

Above, Students of Ecole elementaire et secondaire publique Riviere Rideau marched in the first-ever Kemptville Pride Parade. Photo courtesy of Painted Turtle Photography.

 

What does PRIDE mean?

According to Brown, people should be free to live their lives without the fear of persecution.

Why host a pride parade?

“Because people deserve to see themselves reflected in the world around them. How can you feel proud about yourself and who you are when you feel so alone,” she expressed.

Brown and the committee were even more impressed by the number of local businesses who not only approved of the parade but donated funds for the event.

“Most of the money raised for the event was by our local businesses! We had well over 20 businesses supporting us!”

Some establishments donated cash where others held ‘creative’ fundraisers.

On the day of the event numerous businesses situated along the parade route even had ‘rainbow themed’ merchandise for sale. Some sold cupcakes, cookies, some even sold rainbow stuff for pets.

“It was so nice to see them all getting on board!” Brown said.

The Kemptville Pride committee meets this coming Tuesday for their debrief on the event and but Brown has no reason to believe that the parade won’t return for its second consecutive year.

The RUDG founder also expressed her gratitude to the Municipality to North Grenville and Mayor Nancy Peckford.

“Nancy Peckford was a great supporter right from the start! There was no pushback or stalling from the municipality at all. It was great!”

Brown wanted to reach out and encourage everyone to follow Kemptville Pride and Rainbow Union Dundas and Grenville on Facebook for more information and support.

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