City kicks off Pride month with flag-raising ceremony

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By Mary Ann Price

CHS Atlas junior Curran-Barker addresses the crowd. (Photo courtesy of Dan Busler Photography)

Members of the Township Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (CDEI) joined dozens of local residents last Wednesday, June 1, on the lawn of the Township Public Library to celebrate the first Pride event organized in the city. CDEI members Dr. Alan Rapoport, Amy Peterson and Sheryl Wagner planned the celebration, which included speakers, music and the raising of the rainbow flag – a symbol of LGBTQ pride – on the flagpole. the library on the first day of Pride month.

CDEI member Julie Beckham greeted the audience, many of whom wore Pride Flag clothing and accessories. She asked for a minute of silence in memory of the victims of recent hate crimes and gun violence across the country.

Rapoport, who grew up in Guangzhou, started the evening by sharing some of his personal experiences. “It’s a really big deal,” he said of the event. “As a troubled young man trying to find myself in life, I always found refuge in this library. I have always found it to be a place of acceptance and inclusion. And so, it’s still a second home for me. I am delighted to be on the ground here to organize our first event.

He introduced State Representative William Galvin, who spoke of the honor of being invited to the event. “Every individual deserves to live their most authentic life without discrimination,” Galvin said. “Pride Month allows us to celebrate and encourage individuals to embrace who they are and live their lives to the fullest.”

Galvin referenced the Stonewall Riots of 1969, a series of violent protests between gay rights activists and the police, which led to the gay rights movement, and also spoke of the need for communities to come together against discrimination and injustice. “It’s been a long and difficult journey since Stonewall in 1969,” he said. “But we have made progress. We still have a long way to go to ensure individuals feel safe and supported. »

Galvin said voting to legalize same-sex marriage was one of his proudest moments as a state lawmaker.

Canton Select board chairman John Connolly, who wore his Gay Pride tie as he has done for many years, read the Standing Together statement on behalf of the board. “In the interests of community, unity and tolerance, and in promoting the core values ​​of what makes this country one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all, the Select Board condemns any act of discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, age or disability, including all forms of religious intolerance, misogyny, of homophobia, xenophobia, racism and bullying, cyber or otherwise.

“Furthermore, the council condemns any act of violence directed at police officers or first responders. Accordingly, the council invites all citizens of Canton to work with their neighbors, regardless of party affiliation, to continue to make Canton, Massachusetts and the United States places of which they can be proud.

Canton High School’s Contemporary Music Workshop played and sang the song True Colors while members of the Galvin College Gender Sexuality Alliance raised the pride flag on the library pole.

Parker Campbell, President of the Canton High GSA, spoke about the need for everyone to play a role in eliminating ignorance in the world. “Although the root of ignorance is hatred,” he said, “we must have the analytical and emotional intelligence to combat it. As people, we can all choose to be the educators of our next generation. But I think it’s our duty, especially among the young people in the audience, to teach the ignoramuses of this world to be better and to do better.

Brandon Chin, an eighth-grade civics teacher at GMS, and Katie Leazott, a guidance counselor at CHS, have worked with their school’s GSAs for several years. Leazott has been involved with the GSA since she started working at Canton High. “I just want to say this is a safe place for our young LGBTQ people and their allies,” she said. “A place where they are safe to talk, plan, educate.”

Chin shared statements from GMS GSA members. He read: “‘It helps me find people to look like me to and they also said that GSA is a place where they can find other people in the community, talk to people who look like them and that makes them provides a place to relax after a long after a long day at school Chin added that he has been involved with the GSA since he started teaching at the school four years ago and that the time qu spending working with the band was one of his favorite parts of his week.” I love seeing each one of them come, hang out, feel comfortable and really know they belong in school,” he said. Two Galvin GSA students spoke briefly about their membership in the alliance and invited anyone who might be interested to join.

In July 2017, Atlas Curran-Barker worked with three other Galvin students to research and found the GMS GSA. Now a junior at Canton High School, Curran-Barker spoke of his experience creating the GSA so that at the end of his eighth year, the GMS alliance held its first meeting and had the support of at least 10 teachers to help run the organization. “It’s just been such a good thing from the start,” he said.

Last year, he attended many GSA meetings via Zoom, which allowed him to see how the group had grown. “To see how many kids are here tonight is amazing,” he said. “The Middle School GSA has led many members to join the High School GSA. And everyone who is just a queer student in our community knows that we are all here and safe people to talk to, which is just a good thing.

Rapoport shared a list of famous gay men with the crowd to show that young people can become whatever they want to be: athletes Michael Sam, Jason Collins and Megan Rapinoe; civil rights leader Bayard Rustin; gay rights activist Barbara Gittings; British mathematician Alan Turing; ophthalmologist and tennis player Renée Richards (née Richard Raskind); Apple CEO Tim Cook; astronaut Sally Ride; and drag queen RuPaul.

Beckham thanked Rapoport for his work preparing for the event. She reminded everyone that upcoming events include the Canton Farmers’ Market on the lawn of the Rodman Building on June 12 at 10 a.m. and the second annual June 19 Celebration, which will be held on Saturday, June 18 at 1 p.m. at the restaurant. Northern Spy. The CDEI is looking for new members and volunteers to help with upcoming events. Meetings are held the second Monday of each month on Zoom. For more information on joining the CDEI, contact the town hall.

The Contemporary Music Workshop sang Mama Mia to conclude the ceremony. Then the attendees went to Big D for pizza.

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