Typically, the end of July marks the kick-off to two weeks of special Fierté Simcoe Pride events across Simcoe County.
However this year, due to a variety of factors, for its 10th year, few official events are planned to mark the festivities.
“We just had our special general meeting, and there was a heavy board change, and we have lots of new board members,” incoming president Colin Nelthorpe told Village Media this week. Nelthorpe is one of only two returning members.
Nelthorpe notes that with the board changeover, there wasn’t enough time to properly plan any in-person or virtual events to mark the occasion this year. The pandemic also made it difficult for volunteers to commit to the organization.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s upsetting because it (would have been) our 10th anniversary,” he said.
Looking forward, Nelthorpe said the LGBTQ organization is planning on updating old policies and shifting focus with a community consultation to be done within the next six months. The last study undertaken by the organization to determine the needs of the local LGBTQ community was done in 2018.
“It’s supposed to be done every five years, but I think the world has changed too much for that to still be relevant,” said Nelthorpe. “The world is becoming more accepting, but there are accessibility issues. Any issue that already existed, the pandemic has exacerbated.”
Nelthorpe points to changing public opinion regarding issues such as police being involved in Pride and the purpose of Pride.
“People want it to be more of a protest than a festival. There’s still a struggle to Pride,” he said.
Nelthorpe says, statistically speaking, that members of the queer community are about 20 per cent more likely to live below the poverty line.
“Events having costs to attend, or costs to travel, can put strain on people,” he said. “My main goal as president for the next six months will be drumming up more financial support for FSP.”
Nelthorpe notes that FSP has lost some sponsors throughout the pandemic. He intends to pursue funding sources such as government grants.
“Hopefully, with more money and more time, the next board will be able to plan a nice (event) for the 11th anniversary next year,” he said.
When he looks at the evolving struggles of LGBTQ people, Nelthorpe says there can be lines drawn in the sand, even within the queer community.
“Generally speaking, being gay or lesbian is pretty accepted now, but being transgender or non-binary – that’s still very much a hot-button topic. There are even people within the Pride community who don’t like trans people, which isn’t right,” said Nelthorpe.
“There are people within the queer community who will say, ‘No. They’re not the right kind of queer.’ I’m bisexual, so this isn’t something that affects me, but it does effect others in our community which I hope to rectify,” he said. “Pride is for everyone, not just certain groups.”
Nelthorpe said there are some local pop-up events being planned in the coming months, including the group’s ongoing virtual coffee socials and possibly a drive-in movie night, however dates and details are to be determined, and will be announced on social media as they are finalized.
If you’d like to donate or become a corporate sponsor for Fierté Simcoe Pride, they can be reached via email at email@example.com.