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More than 300 rally for gay rights in Oshawa

'We will not put up with derogatory terms anymore,' PFLAG Durham

Councillor Amy England protests against hate in Durham on April 18. Credit: Andrea Houston

More than 300 rainbow-covered people marched silently through downtown Oshawa April 18 to protest a homophobic rant that appeared in a local paper.

Organizer Jayme Harper, from PFLAG Durham, was elated with the turnout. “It says the community is ready to move on to the next step. We will not put up with derogatory terms anymore.”

The rally was organized after Oshawa Councillor Amy England was attacked by a local newspaper for her participation in a fundraiser for PFLAG. England performed in drag to cheering and applause.

“This is not about me anymore,” England says. “This is the community coming out to support one another and support equality. I love this community and it’s beautiful to see.”

The Oshawa/Durham Central newspaper had printed an inflammatory story that referred to a PFLAG fundraiser as a “freakshow,” equating England’s drag performance in it to blackface.

The fallout led to the creation of Boycott Hate in Durham Region, a website set up by members of PFLAG Durham calling on all of the Central’s advertisers to end their relationships with the paper.

Kate Martin, a protester from Courtice who is a lesbian and a mom, says she is setting a positive example for her kids by standing up for equality. “Oshawa is not a homophobic city, but because it’s smaller than Toronto, you notice it more.”