KENTVILLE – Stephanie Geneau-Johnsen isn’t one to get involved in online debates, but recently spoke up after comments on a Pride-centred news story hit too close to home.
Geneau-Johnsen, 31, grew up in Kentville and now lives in Fredericton with her wife, Kayla. She had tuned in to a Kings County News story that listed Pride events happening around the Annapolis Valley and noticed someone’s comment talking about why Pride parades bother them.
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Geneau-Johnsen said she was quick to respond since Kentville is her home town, and the comment brought back memories of adversity she’d faced as a young gay woman.
“Until the world becomes a place where I can hold my wife’s hand without being looked at, where I can go on a date with my wife and not have [a] woman explain to her children why two women are sharing a kiss, holding hands etc. we need these events,” she wrote on Facebook.
And now, a week after the post was originally shared, Geneau-Johnsen said getting involved and highlighting why Pride matters was an important move.
“A lot of people still don’t get it. They don’t understand how hard it used to be for us, and that Pride is both a celebration of how far we’ve come in acceptance, and an acknowledgement of how far we still have to go,” she said.
Geneau-Johnsen also noted that Pride offers more than a political statement and also creates a space where people can be themselves.
She strongly believes such a space is still very much needed in the town of Kentville – a fact that may be lost on some people, said Geneau-Johnsen.
“These parades are... a safe place for people who may not feel safe at home or school. Please understand not everyone can feel safe still,” wrote Geneau-Johnsen.
Geneau-Johnsen said she and Kayla attend these events are special for the couple as they celebrate being out, being proud and being married.
She described how Fredericton’s Pride parade this year was led by a little girl who is transgender – a strong statement for a small city.
“Kids don’t care. If they learn when they’re young that this is okay, and this is normal – love is love, and that’s that,” she said.
“I hope my comments can get people to open their eyes a little and take part in something they don’t understand and understand it a little bit more.”