Even though the in-person celebrations will be muted once again this year, observing Pride Month by flying the flag over North Bay's City Hall never loses its significance and importance for OutLoud founder and operator Seth Compton.
"We were hoping for an in-person event this year but hosting a virtual celebration means we still remain focused and will continue to celebrate with our 2SLGBTQ community members and allies," Compton tells BayToday. "Social change happens through tiny, everyday actions of acceptance and love,"
Compton feels current events have emboldened the OutLoud cause and message even more.
"Although, throughout Canada, we weep with the discovery of the remains of Indigenous children in B.C., and a hate crime in London with a Muslim family, we need to promote inclusion and diversity more now than ever. We all have battles we are fighting for, whether it's Black Lives Matter, Idle No More or against Asian Hate.
"At some point, we need to unlearn hate. Hate is taught. Hate is learned. By raising the flag today the youth learned that we stand for all those in our community and worldwide that 'LOVE IS LOVE' and they are willing to walk the walk," Compton says.
On the positive changes he has seen in youth who are welcomed in OutLoud's safe space, Compton says, "That's what we do. We promote #communitystrong and #togetherisbetter I am so proud of our community we have put in the work and we have made a dent."
We were thrilled to host Outloud North Bay at City Hall today in order to raise the Pride flag and join in on this month's celebrations of diversity and inclusion. #pridemonth https://t.co/UeqtRYtRL4 pic.twitter.com/PFyL0EYKuQ— City of North Bay (@cityofnorthbay) June 9, 2021
When Mayor Al McDonald reached out to the group to raise the Pride flag in 2020, little did they know they would be back at City Hall observing physical distancing once again.
Emma St. John, OutLoud's youth ambassador did the honours, Wednesday, as she raised the Pride flag up the mast in concert with the City of North Bay's municipal flag.
OutLoud North Bay is recognized as a safe space designed to support all youth in the community. It is an organization driven by 2SLGBTQA+ individuals willing to support the mental health and well-being of youth.
Compton first created a safe space in downtown North Bay in 2020, before moving operations to the new location at the Voyager Inn on Delaware Avenue.
Even at the height of the pandemic — and during a stay-at-home order — OutLoud was deemed an essential service and permitted to operate under strict public health measures.