All Muskoka Communities Show Support for Diversity
MUSKOKA, ONTARIO – July 21st , 2014 – For the first time ever, all of the communities in Muskoka are raising the Rainbow Pride flag to recognize Muskoka Pride Week which runs July 18 – 27.
This is the first year that the Townships of Muskoka Lakes, Georgian Bay, and Lake of Bays have raised the Rainbow Pride flag. The towns of Huntsville, Bracebridge, and Gravenhurst have been raising the flag for several years.
The Rainbow Flag symbolizes the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community with the different colours representing the diverse groups.
For Heather Hay, Chairperson of Muskoka Pride, the flag raisings are a symbol of acceptance of the LGBT population of Muskoka. “It says to the people in Muskoka that our community is diverse and inclusive, an important message for residents and visitors.”
Hay stressed the need for the flag raising’s visibility within Muskoka. “It’s important for young people to see it and know that they’re welcome in their own community.”
“It is significant that all communities of Muskoka are recognizing Pride Week this year,” says board member Shawn Forth, “because there are LGBTQ residents all over Muskoka, who want to feel supported by their town.”
Having grown up in Muskoka, he understands the feeling of isolation that comes with thinking you are alone. “Visibility is important for the LGBTQ community so that you don’t isolated. Pride Week is not just about tolerance and acceptance – it’s about celebrating the rich diversity in our community.”
Muskoka Pride Week continues with window displays in local businesses, a photo contest, and events each day throughout Muskoka. The week concludes on Sunday July 27th with the 6th annual Muskoka Pride Picnic at Annie Williams Park in Bracebridge.
For further information about all events, go to www.muskokapride.com or visit the Muskoka Pride Facebook Page www.facebook.com/muskokapride
KICK-OFF MUSKOKA PRIDE WEEK THIS WEEKEND
This weekend marks the beginning of Muskoka Pride Week, which runs July 18th through 27th. Muskoka Pride will be hosting five events to recognize the start of the week celebrating diversity in Muskoka.
Muskoka Pride Week kicks-off with the 2nd annual Huntsville BBQ. On Friday July 18th join us at River Mill Park from 4:30 – 6:30 for live music, painting a Pride banner, stand-up paddleboard demos, and a free BBQ.
On Saturday July 19th come out to HQ Muskoka’s annual Fireworks, Potluck, and Bonfire Bash. You can join us for a camp-out weekend for $20 or just join us for the free Saturday Social at HQ Muskoka in Wahta Mohawk Territory (Exit 182 off Highway 400, Iroquois Cranberry Growers Drive – www.HQMuskoka.com).
The evening activities go from 5:00pm to 11:00pm. The potluck BBQ starts around 6:30, a bonfire will start by 9:00. There will be fire-spinning at dusk, and fireworks at approximately 10:00.
On Sunday July 20th join Out & About Muskoka for a hike at the Bracebridge Resource Management Centre on Highway 11 (just north of Highway 117). Meet at the parking lot at noon.
Also on Sunday July 20th is the second annual Sunset Campfire Vespers. Reverend Toni Delabbio and Jane Craig invite you to join them for a quiet reflective time of singing, sharing, fellowship, and community before the start of a busy week. Starting at 7:30pm, the campfire gathering will be held at 19 Birch Lane, Bracebridge.
On Monday July 23rd Muskoka Pride is hoisting the Rainbow Pride flag in five communities across Muskoka. Members of the public are encouraged to show your support for the LGBT community by attending the flag raisings: 9:00am in Huntsville, 10:30 am in Bracebridge, 11:30am in Huntsville, 2:00 in Port Carling, and 3:30 in Port Severn. All flag raisings are at the respective town halls.
Muskoka Pride Week’s title sponsors this year are the Town of Bracebridge and the RBC Branches of Muskoka.
For further information about all events, go to www.muskokapride.com or www.facebook.com/MuskokaPride.
Everyone, gay and straight alike, is welcome to attend all Muskoka Pride events.
What are straight allies? What do they look like? How do they act? And more importantly, how many are out there?
Everyone should be a straight ally. It is one of the most important roles in helping to combat homophobia. Straight allies can be co-workers, colleagues, supervisors, friends, family members, or other students. A straight ally is someone who is willing to stand up and be vocal when confronted with homo-negativity.
Homo-negativity is any negative attitude toward homosexuality (including emotional, moral, or intellectual disapproval). It might be someone saying “That’s so gay,” a homophobic slur or joke, it could be someone spreading an LGBT stereotype. Many people who identify as LGBT are still closeted and may feel uncomfortable addressing homo-negativity in fear of outing themselves. A straight ally who speaks up demonstrates that they won’t condone such comments, creating a more positive space.
It’s important that straight allies in schools and workplaces across Muskoka help bridge the gap between LGBT and straight individuals. We need to work together to dispel myths and stereotypes about each other and to build on our similarities rather than focusing on our differences.
An important part of being an ally is establishing ourselves within our social and professional circles as people who will not tolerate homo-negativity or homophobia in any form or under any circumstance. This is also, in many ways, the hardest part. It goes without saying that bringing up weighty issues can be awkward in social situations -- even more so, standing up to a colleague or a friend.
Two organizations that support straight allies are PFLAG and GSAs. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is an organization that works specifically to bring straight allies into the LGBT rights movement. A Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is a student-run club that brings together LGBT and straight students to create a platform for activism to fight homophobia and transphobia.
Steps to being a Straight Ally (from PFLAG’s website www.straightforequality.org)
1. Stay informed – keep yourself informed about LGBT issues by asking or finding out through research.
2. Speak up – be the one to speak up if you hear a homophobic comment or joke.
3. Be honest – know what LGBT terms to use (spouse, partner, significant other, boyfriend, girlfriend) to describe a relationship and use them.
4. Support equality – voice your support for equality wherever you can.
5. Come out – that is, come out as a straight ally. Be the conversation-starter at work or in the community.
The next time you hear someone say “That’s so gay” or spread a stereotype about LGBT individuals, how will you respond?
OME OUT – TO MUSKOKA PRIDE WEEK EVENTS
BRACEBRIDGE, ONTARIO – July 8th, 2014 –Muskoka Pride has announced that July 18th through 27th is Muskoka Pride Week 2014.
In addition to the sixth annual Muskoka Pride Picnic, additional LGBTA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and allies) events are planned across Muskoka throughout Pride Week.
On Friday July 18th take part in the Pride Week kick-off BBQ at River Mill Park in Huntsville. From 4:30 to 6:30, come and enjoy live music, paint a Pride banner, try a stand-up paddleboard demo, and enjoy a free BBQ
On Saturday July 19th you can join us for a camp-out weekend for just $20 or join us for the free Saturday Social. HQ Muskoka’s annual Fireworks, Potluck, & Bonfire Bash is happening at HQ Muskoka in Wahta Mohawk Territory (Exit 182 off Highway 400, Iroquois Cranberry Growers Drive – www.HQMuskoka.com). The fun starts at 6:00.
On Sunday July 20th you can join Out & About Muskoka for a hike at the Bracebridge Resource Management Centre on Highway 11 (just north of Highway 117). Meet at the parking lot at noon.
On Monday July 21st join us in our annual community Pride flag-raisings in Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, Port Carling, and Port Severn. This year Muskoka Lakes and Georgian Bay Townships will be raising the Rainbow Pride flag for the first time.
On Thurday July 24th join us for the 2nd annual Muskoka Pride (mini) Golf Tournament at Northern Escapade Mini Golf in Bracebridge. From Noon to 8pm golf for a special rate, using the promotional code “Muskoka Pride”. www.minigolfinmuskoka.com
On Saturday July 26th take part in The Amazingly Gay Race. Using clues posted on Facebook and Twitter, discover prizes located all across Muskoka. Find a special prize, and get an invitation to our Saturday night VIP (Volunteer In Pride) Backyard BBQ.
For further information about all events, go to www.muskokapride.com or go to the Muskoka Pride Facebook Page.
Muskoka Pride will come to a close on Sunday, July 27th with the sixth annual Muskoka Pride Picnic, sponsored by The Town of Bracebridge and the RBC branches of Muskoka. The picnic will be held at Annie Williams Park in Bracebridge again this year. The event will take place from 12 Noon to 4 PM.
Participants are invited to bring a lawn chair or picnic blanket as they enjoy this relaxed afternoon event. Food and beverages will be provided at this free family event.
Everyone, gay and straight alike, is welcome to attend all Muskoka Pride events.
MUSKOKA PRIDE LAUNCHES “RURAL PRIDE STORIES” VIDEO SERIES
Residents are encouraged to create their own video about LGBTQ life in rural Ontario
Popular thinking says that it’s much easier to be openly gay in larger cities like Toronto than in smaller communities like Muskoka. Larger cities have more services and businesses that cater to the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community.
If that is true, then why is there such a large LGBTQ population in Muskoka and other rural Ontario communities? That is the question that Muskoka Pride wanted to explore.
Muskoka Pride has launched a video series on its YouTube channel called “Rural Pride Stories” that asks LGBTQ Muskokans to talk about their experiences living, working, and growing up in rural Ontario. To launch the series, four videos were created, with more to come over the next several months.
In one video, Midland resident Jason Jones recounts an experience from high school, in which a classmate committed suicide because he was thought to be gay by others. “It was horrible. It certainly made me not want to tell anyone about my feelings that were coming out at that point,” Jason explains in his video.
Bracebridge resident Shawn Forth reflects on the unspoken rules of being an openly gay teacher – do not talk about your personal life at work. In his video he explains, ``Living in a small town, it is difficult because you are in the public eye. I don`t want people to think that I`m ashamed of being gay, but I don`t want to be seen as pushing an agenda. Kids need to see role models of people living their life as LGBT.”
In their video, married couple John and Merv Taylor-Morin, discuss the differences in retired life between Ottawa and Muskoka. “I actually know more gay people here in Muskoka than I did in Ottawa,” explains Merv in the video that the couple made together.
Muskoka Pride will be recording more videos for this series at the 6th annual Muskoka Pride Picnic which is being held at Annie Williams Park in Bracebridge, on July 27th from noon to 4:00pm.
Residents of Muskoka – those who identify as LGBTQ as well as Allies (straight-identifying supporters) – are encouraged to create their own video about LGBTQ experiences living in rural Ontario. If you create a video, upload it to your favourite video-streaming site (YouTube, Vimeo, among others) and email a link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Muskoka Pride will continue posting videos on Twitter and Facebook, and using the hashtag #RuralPrideStories .
To see the full series of videos, go to www.muskokapride.com/ruralpridestories or www.youtube.com/muskokapride
MUSKOKA PRIDE SAYS “SHOW US YOUR PRIDE, MUSKOKA”
Muskoka Pride Challenges Muskoka Businesses and Residents to celebrate Diversity & Inclusion with Window Display Contest and Photo Contest
BRACEBRIDGE, ONTARIO – July 3rd , 2014 – The Muskoka Pride Community is holding two contests that are open to all businesses and residents of Muskoka.
Businesses are challenged to have a window or shelf/counter display that promotes awareness and acceptance for the LGBTQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, and Ally) community. They are encouraged to be creative and colourful, creating their window or shelf/counter display and finding ways to incorporate their products.
Last year’s winner, Bracebridge School of Ballet, was not really a “window display” and showed the need for a separate contest for photographs that show LGBTQA support. This year, Muskoka Pride is introducing a photo contest that is open to all residents of Muskoka. Take a photo showing Muskoka’s pride in our LGBTQA community.
Entries to both contests should be emailed to email@example.com no later than 6:00pm on Monday July 21st. Photo contest entries can also be posted to Twitter with the hashtag #MyMuskokaPride to be entered.
All entries for both contests will be posted on the Muskoka Pride website and will be voted on during Muskoka Pride Week (July 17 – 28) on the Muskoka Pride Facebook Page. The winning entry will be the one with the most “likes” and will be announced at the 6th annual Muskoka Pride Picnic, on July 27th at Annie Williams Park in Bracebridge from 12-4pm.
Toronto World Pride concluded on June 29th, and Muskoka Pride wants to continue to show the world what a great destination Muskoka is for the LGTBQA community.
For more information on Muskoka Pride Week, please go to our website www.muskokapride.com or to our Facebook Page www.facebook.com/MuskokaPride
The Muskoka Pride Committee posts events, news, updates, resources and other items through the News page. These posts link to our facebook page and twitter.