Renfrew Pride wraps up first ever Pride Month
As June comes to an end so does the first ever Pride Month held in the Town of Renfrew.
The final weekend in June saw Renfrew Pride host a dog wash and pride photo shoot Saturday, with plans for a pride picnic Sunday in front of Town Hall. A queer pride prom was also held earlier in the month.
"Our community, the Town of Renfrew, is really embracing pride and we're excited about that for our very first year," Chris Kyte, one of the founders of Renfrew Pride, tells CTV News.
"Renfrew is a great town and a great community but there's still a lot of work that needs to be done and I think this is a great start," says town councillor Tom Sidney, who also sits on Renfrew's diversity and inclusion committee.
While Kyte calls the first ever Pride Month in Renfrew a success, she does point out that they did encounter what was described as "unkind correspondence."
"The feedback we've had from the community has been tremendous," Kyte adds, "but there have been a few negative comments."
In taking until 2022 for Renfrew to host its first Pride Month, there are views that there is still room for more acceptance in the Ottawa Valley, with communities like Petawawa still yet to raise the pride flag.
"Renfrew is a historical town and it's been conservative for a long time," Sidney points out. "I think it's taken a lot of advancement in the world, nationally and stuff like that, for Renfrew to embrace it."
"They haven't impacted us, they haven't slowed us down and they haven't stopped us," says Kyte, noting that for every negative commenter they encounter, they have 100 supporters.
"They've actually only emboldened us to work harder and take it further, and all they're doing is proving that pride is still needed."
Attending the dog wash and photo shoot at Renfrew's Pet Valu Saturday, Petawawa-based drag queen Cleo Stevens is impressed with how far the valley has come.
"I would have never thought people would be so receptive and that I could feel so comfortable in a small town being so queer and so comfortable with myself," says the performer.
The pride flag will be raised on the last Sunday of the month at Renfrew's Town Hall, closing the town's first ever pride month, and leaving the 2SLGBTQ+ community hopeful for the future.
"We're more at ease showing that we're actually together as a couple without fear," says Kyte, "and I think that is what Renfrew Pride is bringing to the community."