Emo, Ontario Hosts Pride Convoy Despite Council Vote Against Recognizing Pride

Emo, Ontario Hosts Pride Convoy Despite Council Vote Against Recognizing Pride
The municipal council rejected a resolution to recognize June as Pride month and fly a rainbow flag in community of 1,300 near the Ontario-Minnesota border but people came together anyway to celebrate its LGBTQ community in an entirely fabulous way.

Over 70 vehicles carrying hundreds of people and rainbow flags showed up for what was playfully dubbed an ambush of Emo, organized by Borderland Pride, an umbrella organization representing LGBTQ Pride events in several northwestern Ontario communities. Following physical distancing guidelines, the parade convoy of elaborately decorated vehicles wove through Emos streets on Saturday afternoon.

Borderland Pride

Participants in the Pride parade on June 27, 2020 pose with their bedazzled vehicle in Emo, Ont.

Borderland Pride co-chair Douglas W. Judson said the event was an overwhelming success in showing that rural communities arent as backwards as some politicians might give the appearance they are.

It exceeded our wildest expectations, Judson told HuffPost Canada. It was really something to have people care that much about sending this message about the need for pride in small communities.

There were photo booths, free flags and prizes in categories like Emo Fair Queen 2020 and Mask for Masc for a masculine person wearing the best face mask, of course. Many attendees lived in the area, while others drove over three hours from surrounding communities like Thunder Bay and Windsor to celebrate Emos LGBTQ community.

J. Stephen Conn/Flickr via Creative Commons

A sign welcoming people to Emo, Ont.

In May, the resolution, along with two of the townships four other councillors. He argued that it wasnt necessary to fly a flag for Pride month since theres no flag being flown to represent straight Pride.

We have one flagpole and theres no flag being flown for the other side of the coin, McQuacker said during the meeting. Theres no flags being flown for the straight people.

McQuacker did not return HuffPost Canadas request for comment.

Judson, who is a municipal councillor in nearby Fort Frances, Ont., grew up in Emo and still has strong ties to the community. He said the support from residents and businesses of the ambush event and of Pride in general has been overwhelming.

This was like something that brought joy to our community during a time when, frankly, were all kind of starving for a bit of human connection, he said. Thats part of the exercise of Pride is that in some ways we have to really push the envelope.

He said Borderland Pride, with Northern Ontario Pride Network, is moving forward with a human rights challenge of the Emo townships refusal to recognize Pride.

The complaint filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario alleges discrimination by Emo municipal council and seeks an apology from the municipality. It asks that the mayor and two councillors who voted against recognizing Pride undertake training at their own expense on diversity, inclusion, and human rights, with a focus on LGBTQ issues. Any money awarded by the tribunal would go towards Pride and LGBTQ2 inclusion programming in the Emo area, said the complaint.

In this day and age, it is unheard of for an Ontario municipality to defy the law and to refuse to recognize Pride in such a plainly discriminatory manner, said Northern Ontario Pride Network executive director Greg Lawrence in a statement.

Borderland Pride

A participant in the Pride parade on June 27, 2020 poses with his decorated vehicle in Emo, Ont.

Judson said he hopes the way people came together in Emo inspires other LGBTQ people and allies to organize and be proud in their own communities.

Its through these efforts that I think we move the dialogue forward, he said. I hope that our disagreement with this municipality will give life to some broader discussion and reflection and other communities like this.
Read more on The Huffington Post
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