As she watched her son interact with other young people like him, Paula Pinksen said that was why she drove from her home in Baie Verte to Corner Brook on a snowy and rainy Saturday.
Pinksen and her son, Elliott Pinksen, were among a crowd of over 100 people who gathered at the Majestic Lawn to take part in this year’s Pride Parade.
The group left from the Majestic Lawn and headed down West Street in the rain at about 11:30 a.m. and about 20 minutes later made its way up Park Street as the rain started to clear.
Elliott, 15, is a transgender male and had wanted to attend a Pride Parade for some time.
“To be with the same type of people as me and support each other,” he said.
He’s been out publicly for about three years and said he was 12 and still identifying as female when he started thinking that things didn’t feel right.
“And eventually I started to realize, this isn’t who I am.”
Mom said the signs were there much earlier. When Elliott started going through puberty she thought what she was seeing could be because of the changes his body was going through. But it didn’t take her long to realize it was more than that.
She said Elliott came out when he found the words to describe what he was feeling.
Paula has supported her son all through his journey, which is why she made the drive to attend the Pride Parade.
“Support is not an optional thing. You support your child or you lose your child,” she said.
Her biggest concerns are for his safety and of him being shutout of opportunities when people find out he’s transgender.
While his transition has been difficult in some areas, overall, Elliott said he’s been pretty lucky.
He knows there are people in his community who are against being transgender, but he’s felt no repercussions from it.
The biggest struggle he’s faced is finding health care.
“To find somebody who understood.”
The Pinksens weren’t the only family to walk in the parade.
Judy O’Connell was there with some members of her family. She’s walked in a few Pride Parades and carried with her a picture of her brother Raymond McCarthy.
Mr. McCarthy died of AIDS about 18 years ago.
“I just think that it needs to be talked about more and people need to be supported more in doing what they choose.
“People are proud to be who are they are, and I’m just proud to show my support and that I’m a safe person for somebody ever to come out to or want to speak to.”