There were many smiles and a few tears today at City Hall as the rainbow pride flag was raised to kick off the Sault’s 3rd annual Pride Week.
Area representatives, including event organizer Susan Rajamaki, MP Terry Sheehan, and acting Mayor Matthew Shoemaker, addressed the crowd of supporters on a day that was dedicated to Murray Carson.
Carson, former owner of Flowers By Murray, founded Algoma Pride in the early 90s.
He sadly passed away in 2011.
“Murray was the glue for the LGBTQ community here in Sault Ste. Marie for many countless years through organizing dances, being a mentor, a friend to many queer folk in Sault ste. Marie,” stated Rajamaki during her opening address.
“He was also strongly involved in advocacy for the LGBTQ community, both young and old. So, this year in honour of Murray Carson, we dedicate this flag raising in his memory. And we hope when you see the pride colours flying, it reminds us all to continue the values and dedication that Murray offered our community.”
Many of Carson’s family members were present at today’s ceremony, including his son Chris Carson and daughter Amy McGonegal.
The pair assisted in raising the flag in honour of their father.
“Growing up as a teenager, I knew my dad was involved in the [LGBTQ] community. I knew he did a lot for them. This meant a lot for them to honour him,” McGonegal told SooToday through tears.
“It’s been five years since he’s been gone, so this was special.”
Growing up with a gay father was a very unique experience, she said.
He came out to her when she was 14 years old, McGonegal explained, although she admitted to knowing before he revealed it to her.
“He was always an amazing parent. He loved his kids,” she said. “He ran a business, was a single dad, and was a very busy man, but he still gave to his friends and his community. I still have people that come up to me and tell me they miss him every day.”
Sault Pride Week continues until July 30, wrapping up with an 11 a.m. Pride Walk, a Family Fun Day in Bellevue Park, and a dance party at The Rockstar Bar from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.
For a complete list of Pride Week events, follow the Sault Pride Community Facebook page.