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LETTER: Pride group calls vendor's comments 'disheartening'

'What was even more disheartening was the backlash towards the vendor who pushed for accountability,' writes Lake Country Pride board members
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MidlandToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] or via our website. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to an article about vendors withdrawing from the Orillia Fairgrounds Farmers’ Market, published Sept. 1.

“Love must be louder.”

The recent allegations of hate speech against the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and the lack of a suitable response have sparked outrage among patrons of the Orillia Fairgrounds Farmers’ Market (OFFM). As a result, some vendors and attendees who support the queer community have chosen to walk away from the market.

Despite the growing support for the queer community, there are many who continue to push for the status quo and, in doing so, harm members and allies of the queer community.

Lake Country Pride would like to call to action business owners, policy makers and those involved at the OFFM to consider the impacts of their decisions on the queer community. A transparent and fair policy to support queer people and other marginalized populations is necessary, not only for safety, but for fostering a sense of community and belonging within our great city.

It was disheartening to hear the news of a false and damaging characterization of the queer community, by a vendor, within a public community farmers’ market. What was even more disheartening was the backlash towards the vendor who pushed for accountability, and the lack of support, transparency and policy from the institutions surrounding the farmers’ market.

Public spaces need to be safe spaces for everyone. Those who seek to discredit what was said or criticize how the issue was brought to light are missing the point. What kind of public spaces do we, as a community, want to be creating?

The underlying problem appears to be a lack of principled, value-driven policies that would build a more inclusive foundation for the farmers’ market. This issue reaches all levels, including the vendors, the board of directors and the Orillia and District Agricultural Society. Policy is meant to protect, and discrimination can be based on grounds including, and not limited to, race, place of origin, ethnic origin, colour, ancestry, disability, age, creed, sex/pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

We encourage our Simcoe County community members, and beyond, to see the bigger picture of what is occurring within our community, and exercise some empathy in understanding the impact of their actions on the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. The queer community of Orillia and broader Simcoe County needs to know they are supported and welcomed. Love must be louder than the hate and discrimination that we continue to face. What can you do to make love louder?

Lake Country Pride board