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City councillors among "Castlegar contingent" at Nelson's Gay Pride parade

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
September 7th, 2012

Castlegar city councillors Kevin Chernoff and Deb McIntosh, along with acting mayor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff and over half-a-dozen Castlegar residents, represented the city in Nelson’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade Sunday afternoon.

This comes on the heels of Castlegar’s first-ever Gay Pride event on Aug. 30 at the Element, an unqualified success drawing roughly 300 people and raising more than $3,000 for Freedom Quest support programs for Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgendered (LGBT) youth. The Castlegar event was organized by residents Daniel Ellis and Todd Coleman Smee.

McIntosh, who led the charge by challenging council at its August meeting to attend the events with her, said she was delighted to share the experience with fellow councillors.

“I have never been to a place where there was such a feeling of love and warmth in the air – everyone was happy, everyone was accepting, everyone was welcoming,” she said, in regard to the Castlegar event. “I think it’s good that we represent our entire constituency. We have a number of residents who are gay. We support them and are proud of them – why wouldn’t we celebrate with them?”

Councillor Kevin Chernoff said he wasn’t at all concerned his attendance might cost him votes with his more conservative constituents.

“I thought it was a good point to make – that Castlegar’s an inclusive community,” said the man who donned a neon-yellow feather boa for the march through Nelson streets. “I think society’s changing, with people understanding there’s a lot more to life than the way we used to do things.”

Councillor and acting mayor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff said this was her first-ever experience with a Gay Pride Parade.

“It was overwhelming – I was surprised how many people participated, and how many people came out to watch,” she said, adding she was pleased to be a part of the event. “I represent everybody in our community.”

Todd Coleman Smee, one of the Castlegar Pride event organizers, said he hopes to repeat this year’s success again next year – watch The Source next summer for dates and times.

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