Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre stands with Pride

With the first week of Pride month drawing to a close, Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre hosted the critically acclaimed documentary “Take Me to Prom” on June 8th and, although the audience was small, it was also appreciative as evidenced by the response.

The documentary is only 20 minutes in length but covers the experiences of queer youth preparing for and attending their high school proms in a moving and poignant way. The film delved into the emotional journey of senior individuals across seven decades and their youth as they navigated the challenges of self-expression, acceptance, and identity.

In an unusual and interesting retrospective method, the film explored the lives of the now older adults, who told of their experiences as queer youth and their proms, in a poignant and moving way, with flashback photos to their youth.

The film’s director, Andrew Moir from London(ON), is a Canadian documentary filmmaker and graduate of Ryerson University who, although he is most noted for the 2019 film Take Me to Prom that won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Short Documentary Film at the Canadian Screen Awards in 2020, has also directed other moving and intimate documentaries from a migrant’s life working in Canada to Hockey Mom, among others.

The screening was followed with an in-person Q&A session with Moir, who generously gave of his time answering many audience questions about his work.

The evening then continued with an interactive discussion with three speakers – Fort Papalia, Joe Wesley and Rev. Gordon Dunbar.

Fort Papalia, President of Kincardine Pride Inc., opened the discussions explaining how and why he had organized the first Kincardine Pride Parade in 2017 and how his expectations of low support and an even lower turnout were dashed when hundreds took part in the parade and thousands lined the parade street in Kincardine.

“I thought of the idea and thought there would be just myself and another person walking down the street with Pride flags,” said Papalia. “The result was absolutely amazing!  The Town was completely cooperative.  They said whatever you want just tell us.  The street was blocked off and people and organizations marched with us in Pride rainbow colours and carrying banners and flags.”

Today, all major companies in the region, such as Bruce Power, are supporting all inclusiveness and celebrating diversity.

“Unfortunately, there was a recent delegation to Kincardine Council asking that the town not fly the Pride flag,” said Papalia. “We need to be vigilant and progressing.  It’s important and necessary to focus on the positives.  We do not want hate in our communities.  Each year, the municipality raises the Pride flag at three public buildings and we now have the Pride crosswalk along with Every Child Matters crosswalk.”

The next speaker, Joe Wesley of Saugeen First Nation (SON) presented his view from an Indigenous standpoint and the Two-Spirit concept.  “Two spirit is a person who has a both male and female spirit inhabiting one body. In First Nation cultures, gender identity is second to cultural identity, whereas sexual orientation and sexual identity are just another everyday aspect of what does not define who you are as a person.  Two-Spirit does not pertain to defining labels such as gay, bisexual, etc.  The French term ‘berdache’ is derogatory and used to identify a male who is not heterosexual and means a “kept boy” or “boy prostitute”.  Although the term is not heard very often today, it is still seen as offensive, ignorant and derogatory especially to those who are part of the 2SLGBTQlA+ community.  Two-Spirit is definitely an ancient First Nation concept and term.”
Last but not least speaker was Rev. Gordon Dunbar of the Kincardine United Church who spoke of misinterpretation when it comes to the Bible and dialogue surrounding what Pride represents.
“Historically, people’s misinterpretation of the Bible has led to suffering, bloodshed and death.”
Dunbar added that the first people’s of Christianity believe in ‘the Way’, or that living is based on love, compassion, reconciliation, forgiveness, inclusion and acceptance, peace and non-violence,  generosity and justice.  Without this ethic, Christians can become rigid and intolerant, self- righteous and condemning. hate-filled and violent, selfish and unjust. “Love is central to Christianity … we are being jerks when we fail to understand love, that race is not a choice, sexual orientation is not a choice, gender identity is not a choice … but hate is a choice.”
Pride events continue throughout the month of June.
After a hiatus due to COVID, the Kincardine Pride Parade returned in 2022 and wil lbe held again in Kincardine on June 24th (2023).