Letter to the Editor
I helped organize the gay pride flag raising in front of Estevan city hall in 2016.
Witnessing the support the LGBT+ community received brought me joy, but it was overshadowed by the response from others who feel LGBT+ people deserve everything but support.
The following week's edition of Southeast Lifestyles contained one complaint in the Cheers & Jeers column about the flag.
It made me angry. I fought through my anxiety to ensure the flag was raised in front of city hall, and I sent a message to queer people: they aren't alone in this city, and they're welcome here.
Instead, it was met with hostility and ignorance by a vocal minority of Estevan residents.
At the raising ceremony, I met a few queer people who live in the area.
They told me they were afraid to show their love to each other in public. No hand-holding, no hugging, not even a simple peck on the cheek. They were worried someone would raise a fuss about it.
I can't say I'd ever partake in public displays of affection thanks to my asexual orientation, but let me just say I'd have a spicy response to the peanut gallery.
In spring 2017, Estevan had another pride flag raising. I was too busy to organize it, but I showed up. More people attended than the previous year, but the opposition was just as loud. It didn't matter if I walked into a coffee shop or a grocery store, I heard at least one person being publicly upset about the colourful flag flying in front of city hall.
This year, I'm taking a stand. I'm going to organize another flag raising in the spring, and I'm going to get more involved in my local community. I'll work with the residents of Estevan to organize queer-friendly spaces and events, and help welcome queer adults and youth alike to their home.
For the first two decades of my life, I felt like Estevan was a hole I had to escape. I'm going to change that for me and every LGBT+ person in the city. I want to be proud to say Estevan is where I was born and raised.
I hope others are willing to join my initiative.