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Earlier this evening, it was brought to my attention that the Town of Alberton is not willing to fly a pride flag for even so much as one day. I am writing to express my extreme disappointment in that decision. As someone who grew up in the area, I know the Alberton community very well. While people there are often very warm and friendly, perspectives on certain issues can sometimes be narrow. I also happen to be gay and have first-hand experience with the significant homophobia and bullying that came with growing up as a LGBTQ+ teenager in West Prince during the 1990s. I can assure you that the stress, depression, and suicidal thoughts that comes from living in a community that does not support who you are is very real.

I left Alberton in 1997 when I was 18 years old. At that point, it was an act of self-preservation. I was depressed, suicidal and felt afraid for my life living there. I felt that I needed to get as far away from Alberton as I possibly could. I ended up relocating to Vancouver where I've lived now for 22 years. In contrast to Alberton, many communities in B.C. actually try to be welcoming and inclusive. Municipalities across the province are now painting rainbow crosswalks in their downtowns, pride parades happen in communities big and small, and rainbow flags are common place. Turns out that inclusiveness is good for business.

The rainbow flag is a symbol of inclusion. It lets LGBTQ+ people know that they can feel safe, that they are welcome, and that homophobia is not tolerated. And it clearly communicates to the next generation of LGBTQ+ youth growing up in Alberton that they are loved and supported. By refusing the fly the pride flag, the Town of Alberton is telling LGBTQ+ people that they are not welcome, that they are not supported, and that homophobia is, in fact, tolerated. Just as it was tolerated 22 years ago. It is for these reasons that I feel strongly that the mayor and council's decision is thoughtless, short-sighted, and disrespectful. I urge you to reconsider.

Stephen Irving,

Vancouver, B.C.

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