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COLUMN: Living in the light of the rainbow

From drag-queen story time in Springwater to the Barrie Pride Festival, reporter Nikki Cole says love will always be stronger — and louder — than hate

You've got to "ack-cent-chu-ate" the positive, "ee-lim-in-ate" the negative and latch on to the "aff-irm-a-tive."

It’s been nearly 80 years since Johnny Mercer first wrote and recorded those lyrics — made popular a few years later by Bing Crosby — and I feel like those words couldn’t ring more true than they do today.

Last Friday, I attended the Springwater Library's drag-queen story time where my girls and I — along with some amazing pals — had the pleasure of listening to several story books about love, inclusivity, equity, and equality shared with us by the delightful Fay Slift and Fluffy Soufflé.

The room was filled with joy and love — and lots of rainbows ... because who doesn’t love rainbows?! 

Springwater was the pair’s third stop of the day, after having taken part in similar events in Collingwood and Wasaga Beach.

While the story times in those two communities were reportedly met with a small handful of protesters, I was beyond thrilled to learn that the supporters far outnumbered the protesters, who, let’s be honest, have likely never attended one of these story times and therefore have absolutely no clue what they are talking about.

In Springwater, despite library and township staff having received threats to their safety over the last two months, not one person stepped out from behind their keyboard to stand behind the hateful words they felt so strongly about not two months prior.

To echo Fluffy’s words, these events have zero agenda and are simply about reading books and celebrating literacy in an inclusive and accepting environment.

Seeing the approximately 70 people who came out Friday afternoon, it’s heartwarming to know that my little corner of Simcoe County is stepping up to provide safe places for all members of the community. And despite the fear, they were willing to stand tall and support our 2SLGTBQIA+ friends and neighbours.  

As library CEO Jodie Player Delgado said, it just goes to show that this was something that was actually wanted and needed in this community. 

Then on Saturday it was also the Barrie Pride Festival and parade and for the second year in a row, I had the pleasure of being the staffer to cover it.

Walking around downtown Barrie, it was hard not to get swept up in the joy and the love. People felt safe to be who they are, knowing that no one there was judging them.

I recall during last year’s festival, after two men appeared on a corner spewing hate through their loudspeaker, the crowd quickly came together to cheer that love was louder than hate. And with the hundreds of people that gathered together on Dunlop Street that day, it was apparent that love is, in fact, stronger — and louder — than hate can ever be.

In the news business, so much of what we cover often focuses on the negative things that occur within our community, and over the last couple of years, there have been a lot of sad, scary and heartbreaking stories that have taken place here. Thankfully, it’s days like Friday and Saturday that have helped me keep my cup full and not dwell in those dark places.

Besides, who wouldn't rather live in the light of the rainbow?

Nikki Cole is a staff reporter at BarrieToday.