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Honouring Ray Condon in Lab West

Labrador West Pride Week 2017.
Labrador West Pride Week 2017. - Contributed

Pride Week activities include dedication to Labrador West pioneer

LABRADOR WEST, N.L. — It’s people like Ray Condon who paved the way for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community in Labrador West.

During Labrador West Pride Week, which begins July 15, Condon will be remembered and honoured for his contributions to the LGBTQ community with a dedication and movie on July 16.

Condon, of Labrador City, was a high school teacher and was instrumental in Labrador City getting an Arts and Culture Centre. Condon was also the first principal of the College of the North Atlantic, Labrador Campus.

He was recognized posthumously with a Labradorians of Distinction Award in 2017.

According to information on the Labradorians of Distinction Awards website (www.labradoriansofdistinction.com), Condon was diagnosed with HIV in the late 1980s. In 1990 he announced that he was retiring from teaching because of his health and also came out as being gay. A CBC documentary crew followed Condon during the last two years of his life as he went into schools to talk to students about being gay and about his illness.

“At that time, nobody was really talking LGBTQ issues and Ray was the one who would go into the communities and talk about his personal journey,” Labrador West Pride committee volunteer George Lim said of what he has learned about Condon since moving to Labrador West. “What he did was selfless and people opened up to him.”

Condon died in April 1992. However, his legacy lives on. Colourful crosswalks in front of the Town of Labrador City and the Town of Wabush will soon be named “Ray’s Rainbow Crosswalks” in his honour.

Not alone

Lim has lived in Labrador West for about six years. He’s proud that his employer, IOC, and other businesses in the community now fly the Pride flag.

Being involved in Pride activities has helped him realize he’s not alone. It’s done the same for others, he said, and helps people feel welcome in the community.

“I’ve grown more confident,” Lim said. “I’ve learned to love myself. I’ve learned to love my partner.”

Labrador West Pride has great support from the community as do other endeavours, he said.

“We did have some very rare occurrences of a little opposition, but 99 per cent, it’s just amazing support,” he said. “If there is a cancer walk or a hockey tournament, people fundraise for everything. So I feel a real sense of community for every group, including Labrador West Pride.”

Lim is involved with Pride to help better people’s lives. Doing so gives him a sense of belonging and a sense of community, he said.

“We are driven by our own struggle and people around us who are struggling. If they don’t have the power, we will give them power,” Lim said. “We just want people to be people, and be loved for who they are.”

Activities

It will be history in the making this year as Labrador West Pride Week includes, for the first time, a Drag Night during its week-long celebrations.

There will be amateur drag kings and queens performing at the Cabin Bar in Labrador City. The event is slated to take place July 20.

Pride Week kicks off on July 15 with flag raising ceremonies at the Labrador City Town Hall, Wabush Town Hall and RNC.

The festivities end July 22 with a Pride Parade and pizza party.

Activities that will unfold during the week such things as a painting event, health and wellness day, cafe night, youth open mic, story time at Labrador City Library, planting event and lip-sync competition.

For more information on Pride Week celebrations email labwestprideinc@gmail.com or visit Labrador West LGBTQ+ Pride Group on Facebook.

danette@nl.rogers.com

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