It’s about accepting people for who they are.” — Chris Beauchesne
June is Pride month and while many communities have quickly stepped up to celebrate in big, elaborate ways, Greater Napanee has arguably taken a slower, backseat approach to Pride celebrations, according to some in the community.
During a Greater Napanee Council meeting on Tuesday, May 25, 2021, Council moved to fly the Pride Flag for the month of June; however, the location was not approved for Town Hall, as requested, but instead for North Fredericksburg Hall — about 10 minutes from Town Hall.
“I think we should maintain that we fly the flag at North Fred, which we previously agreed to,” said Coun. John McCormack during the meeting, adding that this is the location other celebratory flags are flown instead of at Town Hall. Other members of council agreed.
The request came before Council from Dug Stevenson, Executive Director of the Bay of Quinte Regional Board. However, in past years, Greater Napanee resident Chris Beauchesne has brought the request before council.
“Last year, COVID-19 kind of put a damper on any flag flying in Napanee, but this year I was told that a flag of this nature would be flown at North Fred Hall — a location I expressed I was not happy with, as it had little public exposure nor do tourists see the flag in this location,” said Beauchesne.
Last year, Beauchesne was informed that the flagpole at Town Hall was broken, which is why the Pride flag could not be flown at that location. He was under the impression that it was being fixed so flags could be flown at Town Hall in the future.
“I expressed my dislike of the location when I made the proclamation two years ago,” said Beauchesne . “I even suggested Springside Park [as an alternative].”
Last June, after Beauchesne’s request, the Town of Greater Napanee adopted the North Fredericksburgh Lifestyle Centre as the official location for the Town’s community flagpole. The decision was made at a Special Council Meeting on Tuesday, Jun. 9, 2020. The location was chosen because “the site’s parking lot boasts ample on-site parking for flag raising ceremonies that could draw a large crowd” and is said to be “highly visible from County Road 8, which has a large amount of local commuter traffic,” according to a Town report.
Beauchesne submitted a Request for Deposition to the Town of Greater Napanee on Tuesday, Jun. 1, 2021, requesting that the flag be moved “specifically to the Centre Street end of the Town Hall property.” As of publication date, he had not received a response from the Town.
“My intent is more exposure to create conversation to help young LGBTQ+ feel safer and more secure in their hometown. I grew up here, [and] it’s not easy,” said Beauchesne, adding that the LGBTQ+ community is “one at higher risk of addiction and suicide” and that more awareness and inclusiveness is needed.
Beauchesne isn’t the only Greater Napanee resident looking for change. Brad Way has been seeking more efforts made in Greater Napanee for Pride Month since 2014.
Way posted on a local community Facebook page outlining some Pride initiatives neighbouring municipalities participate in and whether anyone in Greater Napanee would like to see the same level of celebrations and awareness in Napanee. That post garnered nearly 300 comments. The full post can be read here.
As a result, Way started a GoFundMe page looking to raise funds to start some Pride projects in Greater Napanee, such as painting crosswalks, as done at Loyalist College and a number of municipalities throughout the province and country.
“The goal is simple: support the LGBTQ2+ community with public displays of support and acceptance,” said Way.
“What drove me about the fundraiser [was] I wanted to eliminate the financial barrier to get something done to achieve said goal after seeing some people willing to support, but concerned with the use of taxpayers dollars,” Way added. The GoFundMe project’s goal is $2,500 and as of publication time, over $1,800 was already raised. The fundraiser can be found here.
“The LGBTQ2+ is an inclusive movement,” stressed Beauchesne. “It’s not all about sexuality. It’s about accepting people for who they are.”