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Sudbury Pride launches milestone year

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This year marks 25 years of pride in Greater Sudbury. For many people, it’s a week of coming together, finding strength within the community and speaking up for changes the organization says still needs to happen.

“The political climate this year and the past couple of years has been really difficult to navigate,” said Sudbury Pride chair Katlyn Kotila.

“There have been a lot of people who have been trying to counter-protest and basically say that we shouldn’t be existing, we shouldn’t be out and loud and proud, and so there is a little bit of concern, of course, for the future. But I think the showing we had here today for our opening ceremonies does show that there is huge support here in this community.”

Pride week includes around 30 events, including a live panel on sex and money and a sexual health clinic. There is also a youth prom, a community awards gala and the group plans to honour history with a pride march.

“I think it’s going to be an incredible experience,” said Kotila.

“I think COVID was very isolating for a lot of members of our community and so this is a great chance for members of our community to get together once again and to really feel that sense of community and belonging.”

Laur O’Gorman, vice-chair of Sudbury Pride, also reflected on the past 25 years, noting that they were at the first pride march 25 years ago.

“I marched for part of it, but I was really young and anything about being queer, being gay, in any respect was very scary back then so it’s not a thing that most people really tended to understand about themselves until they were older,” O'Gorman said.

This year marks 25 years of Pride in Sudbury and officials are looking back on its history and forward to its future.

“It just wasn’t even a possibility to understand that you were gay at 12 years old when I was growing up.”

Although there is a focus this year on Pride’s history in the city, it was also the chance to look forward to the future and the next generation.

“I knew that I was not cis-gender, I knew that I was not straight since I was maybe about 13, 14 and I jumped from label to label because I didn’t know what I was,” said Quinn Wemigwans who identifies as two-spirit and spoke at Monday’s launch event.

“It came to finding a forum online about two-spirit identity and that was really what sparked it inside of me ... I always wanted to be a voice for those who never had one. It’s important to speak for those who are before us and for those in the future."

This year’s Pride Week officially kicked off with the raising of a flag at city hall. A group of people on hand said they are ready to stand proud, no matter what.

“We’ve really started to understand that it’s not necessarily self-care that we need to focus on, it’s community care,” said O’Gorman.

“We need the connections. You can do all of the self-care in the world, but if you’re not meeting with other people who make you feel good about yourself and who help show you that you’re a valuable person and that you’re normal, then you’re missing a huge piece of what you need to be mentally well.”

A full list of pride events can be found here.

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