Our Story

Tell us YOUR story
Our story begins with your story.. Belleville pride is interested in how we got to where we are right now.. Who were we.. the trailblazers.. the pioneers.. the allies that stood beside us.. what is our history? We are collecting moments of memory to help build our LGBTQ+. Your story helps to tell our local Belleville Pride story! Here's how you can take part:

1. Send an e-mail to ourstories@bellevillepride.ca

2. In the subject line, enter the question you're answering from the list below:

a. When and where was the first Pride you attended? How was it for you?
b. What's it like for you to be LGBTQ2S+ in the Bay of Quinte area?
c. Who did you first come out to?
d. Who are your LGBTQ2S+ role models?
e. Who in the Bay of Quinte region inspires/has inspired you as an LGBTQ2S+ person or ally?

3. Write your answer to the question and send it to us. Please keep your answer brief (100 words or less). End your answer with how you'd like to be referred to (example: Joe B., Carol O., Anonymous)

4. Our story collector will post your story to our website, to be a part of our collective story.

NOTE: Your story may be edited for length and language (please keep the language clean and the tone positive!)

"When and where was the first Pride you attended? How was it for you?"

My first pride was right here in Belleville. And the positive energy and friendly people keep me coming back! It is always so much fun.

Mid-eighties Montreal. Watched them setup the floats and followed along once they started moving. Didn't realise the significance of the event/proceedings until quite a few years later where I couldn't attend because of work obligations (in the village). As well, as for the last 6 years whilst living here in Belleville, I've attended every Pride with enormous pride. Wouldn't miss it for the world.

My first Pride was in Kitchener Ontario in 2011-2012 and it was by chance! I was new to that area and didn't know much about the city. A friend and I were walking downtown, with her son, then age 3. We noticed people around with rainbow flags and paraphernalia. Everyone was smiling and waving at us. We went into a restaurant, saw Pride-themed menus - We realized it was Pride week! :D We enjoyed a delicious, Pride-themed meal. The greetings we received left a strong impression on me that Pride is where all are welcomed. Every year since then, I have attended Belleville Pride (intentionally :) ) and loved every minute of it!

My first Pride was in Toronto 2009. I had recently come out to my mom and sister and asked if they would like to attend Pride with me. Being from Belleville, I didn't really know what Toronto Pride was like. We watched the parade and then wandered the streets where we saw people laughing, showing love and affection for one another, spraying others with water bottles and nudity - lots of it (which was fine by me) but there was some unsettling about being with my mother and younger sister at that moment. All I remember thinking was "oh, I am totally coming back here next year".

My first Pride was in 2008 in Kingston Ontario, I went with a group of friends and was blown away at how many folks were in attendance. It being my first year living in Kingston I was anxious to attend an LGBTQ+ event to meet new friends, get involved in my community and see all that Kingston had to offer. Marching in solidarity with all my LGBTQ+ friends and allies is something I look forward to every year! YAYY PRIDE

The first time I attended Pride was in 1996 in Toronto. I had moved to Toronto less than a year before, didn't have many friends yet, and I remember it feeling overwhelming. So many people from so many backgrounds and lived experiences! My first pride affirmed that I wasn't the only one like me. That being said, my first Pride I felt like I was watching from the sidelines. I didn't really feel like I was part of the community until I started getting more involved.

"What's it like for you to be LGBTQ2S+ or an ally in the Bay of Quinte area?"

I grew up in "the sticks" north of Belleville, and -not proud to say -mostly ignorant and unaware of LGBTQ2S+ communities and issues. I occasionally used homophobic language as a youth- having no idea how hurtful such words can be. My heart and mind were eventually opened, by family, friends and peers who identify as LGBTQ2S+. I realized I not only wanted to stop being part of the problem - I wanted to be a force for positive change as much as I could possibly be. Today, to be viewed as an ally is one of the greatest honours of my life. Proud to be an ally! Xoxo

I first moved to Belleville 6 years ago for work. I began to connect to local groups who offer various levels of support to the LGBTQ+ community and, quite honestly, cannot recall that there was a lot going on at the time. Since those days, I have seen the LGBTQ community and its supports blossom. When Belleville Pride became a recognized community event - instead of a group of fed-up youth, marching down the sidewalk, to demand spaces where their identities were (and are) recognized - I felt proud. When I see a rainbow bumper sticker , I feel proud. When I see two guys walking down the street holding hands, I feel proud. Thank you, Belleville, for taking steps for our community to be visible and allow ALL of our identities to be recognized and celebrated!

I moved to the Stirling area in May 2014 from the Stratford area just having left a 20 year gay relationship and marriage. Starting over again was not easy but I was amazed how inviting and accepting the community was and the farmers here. It has been an excellent experience and I am so glad I chose to farm here. I don't have to hide who I am.

My husband and I moved to The County in 2005 and we weren't sure about how we'd be received as an openly gay couple. We decided to be matter of fact about our relationship, and for the most part, we've been really well received (with some rare exceptions). We fly a pride flag at our house, have a nice group of friends, we're active in the local community, and my day job in sexual health involves working with guys who like guys, so I get to be really out in my job, which is pretty great.

I was very anxious when I came here for college, coming from a small-town high school where harassment was nothing new in the halls (not to mention classrooms). Very first day one of the profs asked us to include our pronouns in our introductions! And its just been more and more uphill from there. As CYCs classroom conversations often involve how to be better and stronger advocates for the pride community. You would think after 2 years I wouldn't be surprised anymore, but it still feels new - and its wonderful.

Growing up in Belleville and being basically out my whole life and knowing nothing different was an incredible experience. Growing up there was always support by the community and rarely did I ever feel that it was a barrier to my life. I am proud of our Quinte area so allowing a chubby little musical theatre kid to grow up here: as. I. was. Understandably there were some friends and acquaintances I knew that did not have as easy a time and without doubt today hate still exists. We are a strong voice and positive voice however and We should all be proud of our Quinte area Acceptance. For a small semi rural and agriculturally rooted community we stand out! #quinteproud

I have had the awesome opportunity to immerse myself in queer life in Quinte. Facilitating S.A.Y. OutLoud (support alternative youth) for 20 years or so has enriched me in so many ways. Being part of young people's lives as they create the 'who' they are meant to be is miraculous! Doing education for the wider Quinte community has shown me just how far attitudes have shifted. Not perfect but hope- filled. On a side note: I am so surrounded by queer folk that I often tell outside groups that I just assume that they are queer and ask "How does that make you feel?"