PICTOU — Members of a Pictou County gay pride organization plan to use a flag-raising event Saturday as an opportunity to focus on the positive.
"We’re inviting everyone to come and celebrate diversity," said Pride of Pictou County spokeswoman Ramona Westgate.
The group will raise the gay pride flag during a 7 p.m. ceremony at the town’s Water Street gazebo to mark the International Day Against Homophobia.
The gazebo is a couple of blocks from the Municipality of Pictou County’s administrative building, where the gay pride flag will not fly. A February resolution banned all except government and First Nation flags from the county’s official flagpole.
The municipality said the controversial policy doesn’t target gay pride groups specifically, but allows equal treatment of all organizations that want the county to fly their flags.
Pride of Pictou County views the move as homophobic, which does not represent the feelings of most people in the area, Ms. Westgate said.
"We never had one protester at any of our events," she said. "That hasn’t been our experience."
A 2006 flag raising in the Town of Pictou and a 2007 event in New Glasgow were both well-attended, with supportive speeches by municipal leaders.
The Pictou County group was sympathetic when Truro banned the gay pride rainbow flag a year ago, but didn’t think a similar resolution would pass locally because of the strong public support for the gay community.
So when the Municipality of Pictou County followed Truro’s lead, "we were astounded," she said.
All elected officials have been invited to Saturday’s event, and some have already confirmed their attendance, she said Wednesday evening. She expects representation from all the Pictou County towns, as well as gay pride speakers from Colchester and Cumberland counties.
After the flag raising and speeches, some of the participants will march to the county administrative building carrying the huge gay pride parade flag.
Everyone is invited to march, but the group doesn’t want to pressure people to participate if they aren’t comfortable, Ms. Westgate said.
"We want to send the message that Pictou County isn’t homophobic," she said.
But regardless, not allowing them to raise their flag at town/city hall has nothing to do with being against gays. If they're allowed to raise their flag on government property, then everybody will want to put their flags up for whatever goals they wish.... hell, I could fight to raise my own Dairy Queeen flag if I wanted if that was the case.
I don't have a problem with them doing whatever they want to celebrate and I don't care if they raise their flag wherever they please, but don't twist your actions into alternative objectives, and don't try and use government/political institutions to influence your cause.