Energized crowd kicks off Cornwall Pride festival

A couple of participants pose for the camera during the 2018 Cornwall Pride Festival in Lamoureux Park on Saturday, July 14, 2018. The festival continues through Sunday. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – A sizable and energized crowd gathered in Lamoureux Park Saturday morning to kick off Cornwall Pride Weekend events.

A parade started from CCVS and wound its way down to the park before opening ceremonies started just after noon.

“I’m super thrilled with the turnout especially all the energy from the people coming in from the parade into the park,” said Stephanie Nadeau, president of Diversity Cornwall, in an interview with Cornwall Newswatch. “You could feel the energy…and it’s so nice to see all the people together coming in to celebrate,”

Nadeau says it’s unfortunate that there are still some “haters” out there. She says they had to politely ask some protesters to leave, who were handing out comic strips suggesting people who are gay would be going to hell. “They apologized and left,” Nadeau said.

She says most of the religious community in Cornwall is supportive and there will be a three church service coming up in September.

Nadeau is “blown away” by the growing support year by year. “I have so many people who want to volunteer that I have to turn people down sometimes. But the support is overwhelming. I love this city because of that.” Nadeau acknowledged the groundwork by previous committees to make Pride what it is today.

“The turnout is incredible,” Diversity Cornwall committee member Liz Quenville told the crowd during opening ceremonies. “As half of a two-mom team, we have two kids, it really means a lot to me personally to have so much support from our community. It’s super important that my kids grow up knowing that they’re loved and accepted in Cornwall and that they don’t have to be ashamed of the family that they come from or who they are,” Quenville shared.

Another participant “Eric” addressed the audience about coming to terms with being transgender. “Being transgender is not easy. I’m 29 years old now and it took me up until I was 28 to accept it for myself. The fact that this community, my employer, my family and my friends gave me all the support they have has made this journey absolutely amazing.”

Cornwall and District Labour Council member Elaine MacDonald said society progresses by taking two steps forward and one step back. But she said the province has taken “two giant steps backward” under the Rob Ford Progressive Conservatives by rolling back climate change programs and reverting the sex-ed curriculum to 1998, prior to same sex marriage being legalized in 2005.

“How can you teach pride? Pride is about being visible, about being proud. If you have to be invisible and you are somehow erased from the books, that’s a step backward,” MacDonald said.

As for the future, the president of Diversity Cornwall says the youth will be important to continue moving forward.

“What we need is the youth,” Nadeau said. “The people that are going to change the culture of things to move forward more. Gay marriage is legal now thanks to the older people that fought for us. Now we need the young people to fight to change the culture more.”

“I have faith in a couple of years it (the community) will be super-duper friendly.”

The festival continues tonight and tomorrow with various events.

Click on an image below to open a gallery of photos from the event.