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Pride month goes virtual, again

This year, on top of the tri-Pride events in Waterloo Region, SPECTRUM will also be offering its own slate of events including a Pride Trivia Night and Variety Show
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You can call it Virtual Pride Month 2.0.

Communities across the country are marking the start of Pride Month 2021 though, with the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, this year's events do, once again, reflect that.

That being said, there are still many ways to get involved and to show your support from simply raising a Pride flag or decorating your front window.

"I think really small nice things to do for your neighbourhood, decorate your neighbourhood, put up some flags, tell your neighbours that you appreciate them, any small gesture goes a long way," said Kristy Skelton, Acting Director at SPECTRUM, Waterloo Region's Rainbow community space.

Skelton says it's all about showing acceptance which is still a work-in-progress, exemplified by the decision this year by the Waterloo Catholic District School Board to raise a Pride flag for the first time.

"It's extremely important for young folks and folks growing up to see that those institutions are changing and they are becoming more accepting and they are becoming more inclusive or becoming a place of belonging for people who have been there all along but who haven't been able to be out to be clear and open about that," said Skelton.

But Skelton says raising the flag should be more than just a gesture of support but a commitment to it.

"The flag raising is just one symbol, to be an ally you need to be active, it isn't a stagnant position to just say that you're an ally and do nothing, it's an every day action," she said. "You know, we're not here just to be queer in June, it's a lifetime so we need folks to understand that and to rally alongside us."

Meantime, on top of the tri-Pride events this year, SPECTRUM is also holding its own slate of events including a set of four panel discussions.

"So we've come up with a series of panels for straight parents with queer or trans children to talk about that and talk about what it's like navigating being a parent of a child who is in the rainbow community," Skelton said. "And then we're going to have the reverse of that which is going to be the queer parents, rainbow community member parents who have children and what it's like navigating school systems and work and having their growing children as queer couples or queer parents."

SPECTRUM says it will also be holding three, 10-person limit, focus groups aimed at discussing issues like queer gatekeeping, the idea that limits or requirements can be put in place on what it meant to be queer.

The group says these conversations come after a series of surveys revealed a number of people sometimes feel 'not queer enough' to attend Pride events or even to visit LGBTQ2+ spaces. 

SPECTRUM says it's also hoping to learn from these focus groups so it can do a better job of understanding the needs of traditionally under-served members of LGBTQ2+ communities.

More information on these and other events like Pride Trivia Night and Virtual Variety Show you can be found on SPECTRUM's website.

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