Dozens of cycles in 2SLGBTQ+ ‘rainbow ride’ in response to Woolwich adviser’s comments
More than two dozen cyclists donned rainbow flags and other 2SLGBTQ+ gear to cycle through parts of the Waterloo region on Wednesday night.
The bike ride was organized following feedback from Woolwich Coun. Murray Martin on the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
Martin had opposed the idea of installing a rainbow crosswalk in Elmira, Ont., during an Aug. 22 council meeting. – which has religious significance for Martin – is not « appropriate ».
Martin has since apologized for the comments.
Andrew Jacob Rinehart organized the event, called the Rural Rainbow Ride. He grew up in a rural community near Windsor-Essex.
« It can be especially difficult to be a queer person living in rural areas because you don’t have as good access to your community, so it can be particularly isolating, » he said.
« And so when I heard those comments I thought somebody had to do something and if no one else would, I guess it would be me. »
The 25 kilometer ride started in Waterloo at Northfield Station with riders cheering and ringing their bike bells as they traveled north. They continued into Woolwich Township, through St. Jacobs, Conestogo, and on to Bloomingdale’s. The ride ended at Kitchener Central Station.
It was set up as a ride because of Rinehart’s love of bikes and the social aspect of riding together, but it goes deeper for him too.
« I think there’s power in bringing gay people together and showing up for each other, » he said. « And there’s power in seeing yourself in public space and occupying that space, and so that’s just one way to achieve that. »
Elmira’s Bob Jonkman had seen a clip of the council meeting on YouTube and said he was « deeply offended » by what he had heard. He felt he had to show his support by joining the race.
« I’m not sure Elmira is necessarily the most progressive place, and I think that was shown in Councilman Martin’s comments, but change is happening, » Jonkman said.
« I mean, the idea was to build a rainbow crosswalk, which is to counter that mindset and bring more acceptance into the community, so I think Councilman Martin has showed exactly why this rainbow crosswalk is needed in Elmira. »
Rinehart said he didn’t think Martin’s apology went far enough.
“Apologies are absolutely free,” he said.
« It’s one thing to apologize. It’s another to change and show a willingness to learn and grow and did that happen overnight… between him saying it and him apologizing? I don’t think that’s possible. »