Broadway Street is looking brighter with the addition of a rainbow crosswalk.
Nakusp Options clinic’s Support Options Nakusp is led by Teresa Weatherhead, a sexual health educator and Options outreach volunteer. Its members support the clinic’s needs and create outreach and sexual health awareness within the community. Nakusp Secondary School students and Gay Straight Alliance members Emma Orr and Rhys McLeod have both sat on this committee
Weatherhead, who is also the Support Options Nakusp liaison to the school, has been collaborating with the Gay Straight Alliance to create awareness around LGBTQ+ issues and brought up the students’ wish to have a rainbow crosswalk installed downtown. In 2017, McLeod presented to village council about the collaboration’s intentions. The GSA also named June as the month in which Nakusp Pride Week would now exist.
The new name SAFE (Sexual Advocacy For Everyone) club replaced GSA in 2018, with the continuation of a group of students who identify somewhere in the LGBTQ2IA community, and other members who are allies, a term used to describe folx (in turn used to describe people inclusively) who support/accept/normalize all gender and sexual expression.
Fundraising began with Support Options’ creation of the Nakusp OutFest film festival in 2017 as a fundraiser. McLeod, a budding film producer, presented his first production entitled I Am Me, featuring NSS students and staff and an interview with local minister Hilary Bitten. Another production around the topic of gender fluidity was created by Morghana Tulak, a NSS student and GSA member.
That was followed by a bake sale at the Farmers’ Market. Both events resulted in plenty of donations.
Nakusp GSA members are McLeod, Orr, Tulak, Jade Gueret, Mary Jane Harzan, Autumn Kostuch, Taylor Poulin-Bergeron, Mia Smith, and Rowan Wurst.
RDCK Area K director Paul Peterson, an ally in the LGBTQ+ community, was instrumental in finalizing the balance needed to complete the project through a grant. Sheena DeLong, the NSS art teacher who heads and assists the GSA/SAFE club students, worked hard on this project.
Aardvark Paving Services out of Kelowna had the contract to complete the project in time for Pride Week, and worked with Weatherhead to achieve the seven-colour ColdPlastic application of this particular rainbow, with a specific message toward the LGBTQ2IA community, stating Nakuspians are part of an inclusive society that supports all genders and sexual expression.
Rainbow crosswalks have been popping up all over B.C. towns and cities since 2013.
“Nakusp has now joined in this important paradigm shift, that creates not only a feeling of warmth, but allows for a safer environment for folx who identify outside of the cis-gender/straight culture that once encompassed our area, making visibility of diversity too vulnerable, especially for high school students,” Weatherhead says.
“When I began presenting sexual health talks around 2008 in NSS, the environment to come out felt far too unsafe for students who had to leave town to finally live authentically. Each year I posed the question to students, ‘Is NSS a safe school to come out in?’ The answer year after year was no, then maybe, then it’s getting better, to finally in 2016, it’s not too bad. 2017 became a pivotal year with the creation of the GSA.”