For the first time in the Town of Port Hawkesbury’s history, the pride flag was raised in celebration of Pride Month. During a flag raising ceremony on June 7, at the Civic Centre, Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton said they’re realizing more than ever how important it is to be an inclusive community.

PORT HAWKESBURY: Providing a safe place without judgment is what The Cape Breton Youth Project is creating for the 2SLGBTQ community by hosting the first ever Queer Prom in Port Hawkesbury.

The inaugural event will take place on June 14 in the Bear Head Room at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Center from 7–10:30 p.m.

“Prom is geared to be a really great time, a great part of your school experience, but to a lot of queer-identified youth, prom can represent something else,” Mitch Hill, community educator with The Youth Project told The Reporter last week. “There’s a lot of fears of being bullied for showing up with your partner, in cases where someone might not be out yet – just showing up or pretending to be something that they aren’t, or not showing up at all.”

The event, which is open to anyone under the age of 19, will be the first of its kind outside of industrial Cape Breton, as the Youth Project wanted to allow more kids on the island to feel they have a safe place to be their true self.

“Not everybody is going to feel accepted at the prom that’s intended for everyone, so the Queer Prom is meant to represent a safer space to really be their authentic self without worry,” Hill explained. “For a lot of our trans-youth, being able to dress the way they want and express their gender expression without feeling judgments is difficult.”

The Youth Project’s mandate is to make Nova Scotia safer for 2SLGBTQ youth, and the Queer Prom is in part doing that – expanding to Port Hawkesbury the organization wanted other kids on the island to experience the same kind of power the kids in Sydney had been feeling for the past few years.

Growing up as queer-identified comes with its own set of challenges, Hill indicated but growing up queer-identified in Cape Breton comes with often a greater set of challenges and stigmas as the further away from city centers you get, the more exaggerated the stigmas become.

“Managing the Facebook page I see a lot of insights; the original post about the Port Hawkesbury Queer Prom has almost 12,000 views and 108 shares with them going as far away as Cheticamp,” he said. “Personally, I hand-read every share to see if there was any negativity from even adults in the community not wanting it or welcome to the area, and I can’t even say that I’ve seen a negative comment.”