Our Community, Our Connections
Bringing Pride to Rural Communities
Curated by Sophie Samek
Storytellers: Rosie Krul, Brayden Scott, and Caitlin Hall
March 17, 2023
The Minto Pride Committee strives to create a space in rural communities where members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community feel seen and heard. They aim to celebrate and encourage inclusion while increasing visibility in the Town of Minto. Along with that, they want to promote further education on the diversity of gender, sex, and sexual identity. The committee was formed in 2019 when the interest was expressed at a Minto Cultural Roundtable meeting to run an event during Pride month in June. They formed a subcommittee to dedicate themselves not just to a Pride event, but to have a year-round presence and impact. I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with Rosie Krul former chair and current treasurer as well as communications person, Brayden Scott current chair and social media coordinator, and Caitlin Hall former secretary, current liaison with the Town of Minto, and a member of the Minto Chamber of Commerce.
Rosie Krul grew up rurally. She shared that “growing up bisexual in a rural community made me think I could be safely invisible by only dating boys”. Within her community, there was little to no local and media Queer representation which furthered her feelings of isolation. Due to the lack of representation those who knew they identified with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community were not comfortable coming out to family, friends, and even amongst themselves as no one discussed their sexual identities. “I couldn’t be Queer and live in a small town,” Rosie thought.
Brayden Scott grew up in Guelph and he recalls that there wasn’t a lot of exposure for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. He found that the education systems were heavily lacking in support and knowledge of what it meant to be Queer. At that time his high school did not have a Gender & Sexualities Alliance (GSA) group which further contributed to the lack of visibility. Brayden now works at Norwell District Secondary School in Palmerston, ON. When he started working there, he was shocked to find the lack of representation still existed in high schools, especially in rural communities. When reflecting on this he said “We do need things like Minto Pride because there isn’t a lot of support for students and their individual experiences. However, the work doesn’t end here, it is important to continue to do this work despite its challenges because it is making a huge impact in more ways than most people recognize”.
Caitlin Hall grew up in Oakville. She began farming while she was at university and decided to move rurally to pursue it as a full-time career. She moved to Minto in 2010 with her partner and had this feeling that they were the only Queer people in the community. This wasn’t true of course, but the extreme lack of visibility within the community led her to believe this. As Brayden had mentioned, Gender & Sexualities Alliance (GSA) groups were not common and were not on the Minto community’s agenda due to what the community saw as a lack of “demand” or “need”.
For these committee members, Minto Pride means creating a safe, inclusive, and accepting place where everyone feels a sense of belonging. Pride is celebrating the unique differences that everyone brings to the table, and it is okay to be different and support different values than your neighbours. Overall, they want to create a sense of support for all in their community.
Minto Pride is constantly trying to find ways to increase its engagement within the community. Throughout the year they host many events to spread awareness. During the month of February, they hosted a Winter Rainbow Social for Valentine’s Day to celebrate different types of love and families. In the month of June, they hosted Pride in the Park to celebrate Pride Month and regularly showcase featured profiles on their social media of influential 2SLGBTQIA+ community members. Along with that, they have hosted many drag shows throughout the year. To constantly work on outreach, they provided homes with lawn signs that said “Minto where your pride belongs” to reach audiences who may not be online. In June, they decorate the streets so that everyone who drives by can’t miss the wonderful celebration. Their events are for all ages, and everyone is encouraged to come. They work closely with the Minto Youth Action Council to collaborate on events and aid in funding. Along with that, they have a youth representative who sits in on their meetings and acts as a liaison for youth in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Minto. In addition, they have school board representatives that will contribute to school-wide meetings and collaborate with the school board to further create a strong community within the schools.
Local representation is important. Minto Pride believes no one should feel as though they must leave Minto to find the support they deserve. Since Queer people remain stigmatized in rural communities, they can feel that they are alone, which further perpetuates the feelings of isolation and of not being welcomed within their towns. However, since the establishment of Minto Pride, many who have left for these reasons have expressed their gratitude about now feeling included and represented within their communities. For most, Minto Pride brings a sense of comfort and inclusivity which is why this committee wants to continue its growth. Not only has the impact been seen in Minto but many neighbouring communities have seen its rapid change and have started to make their own Pride committees to further inclusivity in their areas. As a committee, Minto Pride loves to witness the trickle effect that they started and the effort that other small rural communities are making to celebrate Pride.
In the future, Minto Pride hopes to continue to be a “really strong presence”. They have come extremely far since the idea of the committee was introduced. They hope that they can grow a larger committee with more volunteers to host more events and gain more support. Rosie, Brayden and Caitlin want everyone to know Minto Pride exists and that their final takeaways are that they want others to know they exist and that they are constantly fighting for the equality of everyone.
If Minto Pride is something that you would like to get involved in, reach out to the committee on their social media accounts @mintopride on Instagram and Minto Pride on Facebook. As well, you can send an email to email@example.com. They are constantly welcoming members and looking for volunteers to help further support the growth of their committee.