A local LGBTQ+ organization is facing backlash over its decision to pose with Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson at the City’s 32nd annual Pride Parade.
The backlash came following revelations that the Paterson allegedly participated in conversion therapy practices while practicing at an Evangelical church known as Third Day Worship Centre.
“Sad to see the photo-op with the mayor after the allegations the photo-op with the mayor after allegations against his for administering conversion therapy,” one user commented.
Soon after negative responses began to flood the post, Reelout Kingston quickly removed the post on their Instagram and released a statement the following day.
“Yesterday we posted a photo with Reelout with staff posing with the Mayor at Pride. This upset members of the community who believe the Mayor has no business at Pride for his role with the Third Day Worship Centre; an organization that amongst many controversial things, allegedly performs conversion therapy on its members,” wrote Reelout Kingston on their Instagram.
While the group acknowledged that Mayor Paterson has tried to make amends with the community, they also realize that there are still those who are “traumatized or still healing,” from the events that transpired.
“To pose in a photo with the Mayor and post on social media was not considerate or fair to our followers,” added Reelout Kingston. “We apologize for our neglect and inconsideration to anyone hurt by our actions.”
Other LGBTQ+ members didn’t mind Paterson’s presence at the parade. “As a member of the queer community, I see no issue now that the mayor has left the church and is at a pride event. That speaks volumes. People are allowed to change,” another user said.
Paterson posted the same photo on his social media feeds but did not remove the post in response.
The City of Kingston is currently has proposed a bylaw that would see city council sending letters in support of Bill C-6, and would put measures in place that would create a stronger support system for the LGBTQ2S+ community. They would then direct city staff to draft a bylaw prohibiting any form of conversion therapy.