A crowd gathered at the flagstaffs at Weyburn City Hall Monday afternoon for the official start of Pride Week in Weyburn. While many of the activities had started Sunday, and the crosswalks at the intersection of Third Street and Coteau Avenue were painted as rainbows Saturday, this event is seen by many to be the official beginning of the celebration of Pride.  

“We’re really wanting to promote that we are a community for all,” said City Councillor Laura Morrissette, who spoke on behalf of the City of Weyburn at the ceremony. “We want everybody to be able to be in Weyburn as their authentic self. This is a wonderful city and it’s built on so many different cultures and values and this is another one that we just really want to honour.” 

This year, many of the activities associated with Pride Week are being organized by the Weyburn Arts Council. Regan Lanning represented WAC at the ceremony and was the one to raise the flag itself. 

“Pride is so important for so many reasons,” Lanning explained after the event. “It promotes education, and visibility and understanding.” 

During her speech, Lanning explained the origins of Pride Week, and how it all started with a riot in New York City in 1969. The following year, Pride was celebrated for the first time in New York City and it has spread around the world since then. 

“I’m old enough that I remember Matthew Shepard, and that was probably the first real insight I had into the LGBTQIA2S+ battle, and how people can be killed just for being a little bit different,” Lanning added.  

Shepard was a college student in Wyoming who was killed in 1998. His death sparked calls in the United States for sexual orientation to be included in hate crime legislation, with the bill signed into law in 2009. 

“It was transformative for me, it was a transformative tragedy and every time I do something like this, or I’m involved in something like this, I think of how far we’ve come, but it also reminds me how far we have left to go,” Lanning said.  

The crowd that gathered was a fairly sizable one for the ceremony, given it was happening at noon on a Monday. However, the turnout was something Morrissette and Lanning noted.  

“We really appreciate everybody who comes out to be an ally,” Morrissette said. “You don’t have to agree – you just have to stand with people.” 

Lanning echoed that sentiment. 

“It’s wonderful when you can hold an event like this and you can look out and you can see all the good people. All the people that maybe aren’t your friends yet, but they will be now.”