The rainbow flag is flying over Lake Cowichan town hall for the first time.
The flag was raised a couple of weeks ago to celebrate Pride Month in June after town councillor Lorna Vomacka, who has two children who are part of the LGBTQ2+ community, approached council with the idea at the request of the Cowichan Pride organization.
Vomacka said Lake Cowichan’s council voted unanimously to raise the rainbow flag for the month.
She said she’s pleasantly surprised to see that there has been no negative reaction in social media and in the community to the decision to raise the flag.
“I’m quite enthused and thoroughly impressed with the community on this issue,” Volmacka said.
“I was a little apprehensive at first because this is a small town and there have been beatings of gay people here in the past. A member of Cowichan Pride told me that the group considered getting Lake Cowichan to raise the rainbow flag one of the biggest challenges out of all the communities in the Valley that were approached.”
Vomacka, who spoke at the raising of the rainbow flag at Duncan City Hall in May, said she has seen a lot of positive changes in attitude towards the LGBTQ2+ community in the more than 20 years that she has lived in Lake Cowichan.
But she said she still has people approach her to say that they still don’t feel comfortable telling people about their sexual orientation in town because they are afraid of the backlash from the community.
“I had one man in his late 60s, with tears in his eyes, thank me for working to get the flag raised and standing up for his community,” Volmacka said.
“Other people have thanked me too. It’s not just my children that I’m standing up for; it’s also other people’s children, and all those that are here now. I’m an advocate in my community and I’m working towards making Lake Cowichan more accepting.”
Volmacka said her gay son just returned from a trip to Morocco where he deleted all the pictures from his phone that could indicate his sexuality before he entered the country.
“He’s back on Canadian soil now, so I’m able to sleep at night again,” she said.
“This is a great country. Now that we’ve set the precedent of raising the rainbow flag during Pride Month with no backlash from the community, I expect it will be an easy task to do it again next year.”