Despite local acts of hate, pride committee member says love wins

Two children create the outline of a heart with their hands through a rainbow pride flag with a light shone on it.
During the past few Pride months, vandalizations have occurred locally. One local pride committee member is making sure love shines through. Photo by Canva.
Riley Gillespie-Wilson - CICW - FergusON | 27-06-2023
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During the last two pride months, acts of vandalism on pride decorations have happened locally, but the Minto Pride Committee believes love and compassion are the answers.

Throughout June, the downtown core of Fergus, along with three UGDSB schools, were subject to similar displacement and vandalization of pride decorations.

Love, support, and inclusion are the ways to rise above these acts which Brayden Scott, chair of the Minto Pride Committee and an Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) teacher, described as "super disappointing."

Scott emphasized the importance of allies within the community, and says he's not expecting people to shift their system of values, rather their mindset surrounding acceptance.

"We're not asking people to change their beliefs; what we're asking is that they just support people for being people. Put our differences aside and recognize that we're all unique and different in our own ways and that everyone is entitled to an identity of their choice," Scott said.

"We may not understand, we may disagree but we don't need to openly promote hate about it or speak negatively about it," he added.

Last year, Minto saw pride decorations stolen and vandalized.

Minto Pride made a call to the community for support and Scott said they received “reassuring support.” He says he was relieved to be reminded that the majority of people stand against these acts of hate. With support from local businesses, police and even the mayor, the decorations were replaced by community members.

Over the last year, Minto Pride has also dealt with hate in the form of online homophobia. Their best strategy is to delete, ignore, Scott says, and to stand by the incredible events that shine a light on the 2SLGBTQIA+ community within the area, including the current Small-Town Pride exhibit at the Wellington Museum and Archives.

Scott says he feels fortunate to be a UGDSB employee, as their morals align with his on support for Pride.

"I'm really lucky to work for a board that is extremely supportive and has a zero-tolerance toward any sort of discrimination or hate crimes," Scott said.

"To see the board take a stand during a very important month to say 'you may disagree you may not like it but that's not going to change our stance' is really reaffirming for me as an educator but also someone who identifies within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community," he explained.

Scott says his nine-person group at Minto Pride is available to be a resource for other small towns looking to grow pride organizations in their communities. Signs in Fergus and Minto that read "hate has no home here" reinforce Scott's mindset, he says. He believes it is crucial to amplify voices from underserved communities: "Enough is enough."

Listen to the CICW story below: