From left, Pelham Councillor Wayne Olson, Phil Gourlay and Jordon Gromadzki of Pride Niagara, and Mayor Marvin Junkin. SUPPLIED

Rainbow bench coming to Fenwick

June features Pride Week in Pelham, held during International Pride Month, and Town officials were on hand last week to raise the Pride flag in a short ceremony in front of Town Hall.

“Pride events have a very important purpose,” Mayor Marvin Junkin told the crowd, “in recognizing the basic human rights for all LGBTQ2S+ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Two-Spirit] communities everywhere.”

Junkin extolled the virtues of Pelham as an inclusive and welcoming municipality, and noted that an additional Rainbow bench, the colours of which are symbolic of the movement, would be installed in Fenwick.

Two existing Rainbow benches, located in Peace Park behind Town Hall and at the Meridian Community Centre, are positioned in prominent areas with high visibility—which did not prevent them from being kidnapped for a few days last December, to universal condemnation. A third is located at the intersection of Hwy 20 and Pelham Street.

“These benches also serve as a starting point for conversations,” said Junkin. “Sometimes these conversations are the first steps that the community takes on the path to learning and supporting each other with openness, understanding, and acceptance.”

Phil Gourlay, one of the founders of Pride Niagara, was on hand to thank Junkin and Pelham council for their support.

“This is the third year we’ve been raising the Pride flag here at Pelham, and we’re very proud of everything that you’ve done for us in the past,” said Gourlay. “The benches are so welcoming, and remind LGBTQ2S+ people that they don’t need to leave Niagara, that their community supports them in whatever they believe in, and whatever they choose for their life.”

Pride Week in Niagara includes a host of events and activities, and commenced with a “Pride in the Park” festival at Montebello Park in St. Catharines. Details are available at www.prideniagara.com