Humboldt got its pride on with their third annual pride week from Aug. 21-26.
The rainbow flag was raised on Aug. 21 at Humboldt city hall to launch a week of activities supporting the Humboldt LGBTQ+ community.
Andrew Matheson MC’d the raising. He lives in Watrous with his partner where he works with the Watrous and District EMS Services. Matheson has also been volunteering with the Rainbow Coffee in Humboldt, a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth started by Erin Braun of the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
Pride week continues to grow year after year, says Matheson, and more is always needed by way of education and resources.
“We started that with our youth program and starting Humboldt Pride’s Facebook page has been the push to allowing the community to see that we are there but also as a way to show people that may be struggling and thinking that they are alone; not just youth, maybe young adults or adults or even seniors. They are not alone.”
Tracey Muggli with the Saskatchewan Health Authority Mental Health and Addictions Services sees the challenges that young LGTBQ+ members go through in their community with many stresses and traumas related to their sexual orientation.
“This can come in the form of maltreatment by others which is often discriminatory in nature. This can morph into longstanding feelings of shame about who they are.”
Pride week is a time where we can challenge that behavior, says Muggli.
The United Church of Canada has been advocating for equal rights, support and education of the LGBTQ+ for 30 years now, said the flag raising’s first speaker, Rev. Brenda Curtis.
“Our vision is to honour and respect the diversity with which God created the world as we live out the gospel imperative to love one another as God has loved us.”
They will continue their mission of working to the day where everyone feels valued and welcomed for who God created them to be, says Curtis.
Humboldt mayor Rob Muench also took part in the flag raising bringing greetings from the city.
Being a safe and welcoming community is part of the Humboldt Strategic plan, he says, pride week falls right into that.
“It’s an opportunity to help everyone feel included in our community.”
Also included in the week long celebration was a diversity mass at Westminster United Church on Aug. 26.
Longtime member of the United Church community and former resident of Annaheim, Griff Sarauer, along with their mom, Allison, spoke about Griff’s journey as a non-binary person; meaning they do not identify as either male or female, and their recent journey of finding their identity.
Griff came out four years ago and with the Westminster community being supportive of their transition, says Griff, coming back to give a talk on their journey was very special.
It has been a nice surprise to see all the support that Griff has received from family and friends, they say.
Allison does admit she cried when Griff came out as non-binary to her and her husband, Duane, but the tears were more out of fear for what Griff could be going through; would they be safe or discriminated against or able to find people to love them.
“It wasn’t a bad thing; it was just that we didn’t understand. To be honest, my first reaction was tears because I was afraid for them.”
A recent interview with CBC Saskatchewan has allowed their story to reach more people within the province, and Allison says there is a lack of supports available for the LGBTQ+ community and their families.
As a parent, it was a lonely journey, she says, and she cannot imagine what it would be like for people who are LGBTQ+.
For other parents, Allison encourages them to believe and love their child despite the difficult road ahead.
Humboldt Pride Week was put on with support from Saskatchewan Pride Network and Moose Jaw Pride.