ST. PETER’S: The village of St. Peter’s looks more colourful and more supportive than ever before, thanks to a grassroots initiative to show love and support to members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Just a month old, the Richmond Rainbow Alliance made its presence known with rainbow pride flags in many locations in addition to joining the upcoming community festival parade and planning several upcoming events.
The initiative began with a post by Shannon Stone in her Facebook group called ‘The bright side of the St. Peter’s area,’ in which she asked what types of things the village could offer that might satisfy a ‘bucket list’ desire. Jessica Madden replied that she would enjoy seeing some pride events in the area.
Madden’s friend, Jill Kirby, called her to say, “why not?” and the ball began rolling. Madden posted on her personal page to gauge interest and created the St. Peter’s Pride group the same day, June 14.
“Within a week we had probably 150 people who had joined,” Madden said, noting she was not entirely surprised by the interest.
“I knew just from having conversations with people here that the support was here, but the support wasn’t visible.”
The support has become quite visible in recent weeks and Madden credits the support of Allison Martell, who is organizing the Nicolas Denys Days parade, Community Skill Exchange -Richmond County Time Bank coordinator Tara Paon, as well as Madonna Doucette and her team with the Youth Project. The Cape Breton office of the Youth Project recently brought the Queer Prom and other initiatives to Port Hawkesbury and will be hosting events in St. Peter’s later this month in conjunction with the Richmond group.
A message from a community member who was not in favour of a pride presence at the community’s upcoming festival parade created a stir, but by the time the group reached its two-week milestone membership had risen to over 400 people and numerous ideas were being presented.
For Jamus Dorey, 47, who grew up in Louisdale and came out as gay at 27, seeing a pride movement happening in Richmond has been “beyond amazing.”
“Thank you for your support. Thank you for standing up for me and others. Please know it means so much to me and the others who you are liberating simply with your love and understanding and acceptance,” he wrote in the group’s Facebook page on June 18.
Dorey, who now lives in Herring Cove, wrote about the societal pressure to deny his true self and the pain it caused. The sentiment was shared by many others who have since joined the group.
He says the fact that the group was started by people who are allies, but not direct members of the LGBTQ+ community, brings a special significance and he is “proud to be able to witness this moment.”
With an initial donation of $500 from her sister Beth Sampson and brother-in-law Jonathan Savoy, Madden began approaching businesses and venues, and was often told they would help for free.
“The fact that people were willing to donate the things I was asking for meant I could ask for more things, knowing I could pay for them, and then they ended up being donated as well,” Madden said.
Upcoming events include a LGBTQ+ Inclusive Story and Craft Time on the morning of July 20 at the St. Peter’s Library, followed by a Transgender Information Session Q&A in the afternoon. Boxes have been placed in various locations in the village so people can drop off their prepared questions to be answered at that event. Madden hopes to record and transcribe the questions and answers so they can be made available to people who were unable to attend.
A tie-dying event, Dye with Pride, is scheduled for July 21 at the St. Peter’s fire hall.
During the Nicolas Denys Days festival, a Fabulous Family Fun Day will take place at Battery Park at noon, and pride supporters will gather later in the day for the 6 p.m. parade. Following the parade, an all-ages talent show will take place at the St. Peter’s Lions Hall with 50/50 sale proceeds going towards future events. The group now has an account with the East Coast Credit Union and can accept donations for future events.
For more information or to get involved, find St. Peter’s Pride – Richmond Rainbow Alliance on Facebook.