Guelph Pride leadership and city officials held a ceremony marking the start of Spring Pride festivities and raised the rainbow flag at city hall on Friday evening surrounded by many from the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.

Dozens gathered by the entrance to 1 Carden St. to hear Pride organizers talk about the upcoming events starting at the end of May and local dignitaries give their support for the community.

Out on the Shelf Chair Jesse Tetrault, who was the master of ceremonies, said that they were gathered to celebrate “diversity, resilience and community” and gave an Indigenous land acknowledgement.

As the chair for the 16th year of Guelph Pride, Jasper Smith said their focus this year was accessibility and opening up the events to be more inclusive for more people, adding that “we’re here to celebrate together”.

Organizers added that because of the new efforts, the volunteer list had tripled for the spring and Guelph Pride’s social media was booming.

Pride flags on May 24, 2019.

Green MPP Mike Schreiner, who was the first of the politicians to speak, said that he values the importance of community for those that identify as LGBTQ+, adding he continues to “stand up” for the group at Queen’s Park.

Liberal MP Lloyd Longfield said he has been involved in Ottawa’s LGBTQ+ suicide prevention efforts. He specifically pointed out accessibility barriers for those in Indigenous communities and the rural challenges they face.

Longfield, who is vying for re-election this fall, thanked Guelph Pride for “your courage”.

Image of pin handout from MP Lloyd Longfield on May 24, 2019.

Mayor Cam Guthrie spoke last, giving his support for the LGBTQ+ community from himself and “on behalf of Council”.

Going on an anecdote, Guthrie said the year previous he had used the word “tolerance” while describing support of Pride, but learned afterwards that “acceptance” is a better description.

The mayor went on to say that “we are blessed as a community” to have “an atmosphere of acceptance” throughout the city before heading to a waiting flag at the bottom of the fourth flagpole.

All the speakers — with the addition of Ward 6 Dominique O’Rourke, the only councillor who was present — worked the ropes together to raise the flag, now flying beside the flags of Canada, Ontario and Guelph at City Hall.

Around 30 to 40 people attended the ceremony.

Also in attendance was Green Party candidate Steve Dyck who was sporting party literature, New Democrat riding association President Tim Mathewson and Women in Crisis executive and former provincial Liberal candidate Sly Castaldi.