Pride gatherings grow, petition to designate corner of Whyte Avenue
A counter-protest of sorts — and a show of support and inclusivity — continues to grow each week at a popular Edmonton street corner.
Every Friday for the last several months, a group of LGBTQ community members and allies has been gathering at the corner of Whyte Avenue and Gateway Boulevard.
“It started out as a need or a desire to counter-protest the street preachers,” one of Pride Corner organizers, Erica Posteraro, told Global News on Tuesday. “One in particular has been on that corner on Whyte Avenue every Friday for almost 11 years now.
“When you’re near them you sort of get messages of condemnation, they are quite queer-phobic, saying queer people are going to hell, they need to turn from their ways and repent, that we’re living in sin.”
Street preachers are often seen there, holding signs that read: “Jesus Christ came to the world to save sinners,” and can be heard saying things like: “It’s not a matter of the heart; it’s a matter of the will” through a microphone and speaker.
“I think a lot of people in Edmonton are very frustrated with that,” Posteraro said. “That’s why it has kind of picked up and caught on as well as it has. A lot of people are just frustrated and feel unsafe on that corner.
Edmontonians have been gathering at the same corner every Friday from about 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., to show support for the LGBTQ2S+ community, often waving Pride flags, dressed up in rainbow colours and carrying signs of their own.
Some of the Pride signs read: “You can’t pray this gay away” and, “Born this way.”
“It was just something we started as doing to counter-protest and to let them know that we’re here and we’re not going anywhere and you can’t just continue, as an institution, doing this to queer people,” Posteraro said.
“We go there, we play music, we hold signs supportive of the queer community, and just dance and let passersby know that Edmonton overall is a place of inclusion and acceptance,” she said.
The Pride Corner group even crowd-funded to buy a large portable speaker to play music at the corner.
“In this very delicate social time — when it’s already hard enough for queer people to just exist in the world, for queer youth who are kicked out of their homes just for coming out or being who they are — it’s already hard enough.
Posteraro says there’s been conversation — and sometimes tension — between Pride Corner supporters and the street preachers.
“I think that’s something that definitely us as organizers, and a lot of the people that show up, do see value in — is to not just continually ‘other’ everybody.
“We’re all humans, we’re all trying to get through and it’s really vital to have those conversations just so that we can get more of an idea of where they’re coming from… they might not have any queer people in their lives… Showing them that this harms us, that we are people as well and their words and their actions do ripple out and have real-life consequences for queer people.”