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Pride Month in Cape Breton Island - Roundtable #15
PORT HAWKESBURY - Less than 24 hours after Pride Month activities officially wrapped up in the Strait Area, LGBTQIA+ activist Taylor Linloff is hardly ready to call it a day.
In fact, like the other members of the Telile Pride Panel that convened for the latest episode of Roundtable - specifically, Cape Breton Pride (CBP) communications director Jana Reddick and Cape Breton Transgender Network (CBTN) founder Veronica Merryfield - Linloff believes their work has just begun.
Roundtable host Adam Cooke convened the panel the day after the largest Pride Month celebrations in Port Hawkesbury's history. Two years after the inaugural Strait Area Pride Rally and March, and a year after COVID-19 restrictions led to more muted celebrations in Port Hawkesbury, the town hosted a full-blown Pride Parade and followed this up with a community barbeque at the Strait Area Yacht Club that helped to raise money for the Cape Breton Youth Project, a Sydney-based effort designed to assist and protect LGBTQIA+ and Two-Spirit youth across the island. A three-hour Pride Karoake event followed at Port Hawkesbury's Granville Green outdoor concert stage.
"It was a healing experience, in a lot of ways," Linloff recalled, noting that participants came from across Cape Breton and northeastern Nova Scotia and from as far away as Prince Edward Island.
"I felt very honoured, and I felt such a strong sense of community, and not just in relation to the town."
However, Linloff confirmed that they continue to be "scared for" LGBTQIA+ and Two-Spirit people inside and outside their community, and she agreed with Reddick that much work needs to be done to protect the community's rights.
Pointing to the U.S Supreme Court's recent overturning of the Roe V. Wade decision protecting abortion access across the country, and noting that Justice Clarence Thomas had also suggested that same-sex marriage rights and civil-union benefits could be revisited in the near future, Reddick - who ran as a federal NDP candidate in Cape Breton-Canso this past summer - warned local residents not to take their limited Pride Month progress for granted.
The same held true for Merryfield, who founded the CBTN in 2016 shortly after her arrival in Cape Breton. Pointing to her own fight against conversion therapy in heated discussions with federal politicians in Ottawa only a few years earlier, Merryfield urged her fellow community members to keep up the battle for such changes in the Nova Scotia health-care system as "gender-affirming care for everyone."
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