Jennifer McCreath had no idea what to expect from the first-ever Pride Week celebration in Grand Falls-Windsor on July 15.
The long-time transgender rights advocate spoke with The Advertiser before the flag waving ceremony and speeches began outside the Status of Women Central building on Bayley Street.
She wasn’t sure how many people would show up, and wasn’t sure how the day was going to go.
When she left the conference room and saw the long row of people that showed up to participate in the day, she smiled, and walked down the hall introducing herself and welcoming everyone.
“The people that ran Pride here last year aren’t here. We were going to Gander to do an event, and we decided to come here to Grand Falls-Windsor because I hate to see communities regress,” said McCreath. “If you had Pride before you want to keep it. I’m happy to help pull the socks up if people can’t pull their socks up themselves. I’m glad to do it, someone has to do it, so why not a trans person?”
McCreath has been a prominent activist in bigger centres like St. John’s, where it might be a little easier speaking out on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues.
However, in smaller communities, speaking out and coming to the forefront might not be so easy. McCreath understands that, but more so, as a transwoman, she knows exactly how it feels to be different.
“I moved to St. John’s in 2007 and started my transition almost right away, and I seemed to be the only trans person. I went to St. John’s Pride and met maybe 200 gay and lesbian people, but there weren’t any trans people there,” said McCreath.
"I can relate to being the only one in town type of thing.
"When you take it to a smaller town like Grand Falls-Windsor…it’s the same situation. There might be one or two or three LGBT people, and I want to let them know there are a lot of us out here."
She says she's done about 10 different events in towns across this province, and there’s always been one person who contacted her.
"Even if they didn’t want to come out publicly to the event, they would email and say, it’s great, and they’re glad someone is doing something to make the community visible.
"That’s what this is all about, creating a safe space. Even if you don’t want to out yourself, you can still come to an event and listen to me talk, because I’m apparently pretty good at that (laughs).”
In a perfect ending to the July 15 event, McCreath said she hopes someone would come forward to say they want to be a leader in Grand Falls-Windsor, and they want to get involved in creating a LGBT organization that exists 365 days a year.
The LGBT community, she said, has already come along way in Newfoundland and Labrador, but more work needs to be done.
“You can lean on us in St. John’s. There’s a whole bunch of us,” said McCreath. “We’re here to help and support, but it’s so critical to have community leaders seen locally, and to come to an event and see people live.
"It’s tough for me as an activist and for trans people who are still fighting for health care, and still fighting for identification documents. There are a lot of challenges, but they (community leaders) need to see us being successful as well.”
Scott Simms, MP for Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor, was the lone politician at the event.
He shared how honoured he was to be at the first one for Grand Falls-Windsor.
“This is about equality,” he said. “I stand before you humbled because, yes, this is my first one here, but it definitely won’t be my last one. I definitely want to say to all of you…being here today is a tremendous step for all of us, and I thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for having me here.”
For more information, visit www.jennifermccreath.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 709-753-9529.