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'Everyone deserves to be who they are': Rally for Trans Youth in Winnipeg responds to anti-LGBTQ2S+ protests

Thousands gathered at the Manitoba Legislature Sunday in a massive show of support for Winnipeg's LGBTQ2S+ community. 

The "Rally for Trans Youth" was organized in response to a nationwide movement against modernized sex education that took place last week. Rally organizer James Webster said it was important to speak out against what he calls a demonstration of hate.

"I saw the 1 Million March for Children being planned, and I knew I didn't want something to happen the day of because the safety of our community is paramount," said Webster.

Webster began discussing the possibility of a rally on social media. "I reached out to @mbpolidragrace on Instagram and said 'What can we do? How can I help?' and it turned from 'how can I help' to 'alright, now I'm directing other people on how to help,'" he said.

Rainbow flags, colourful outfits, and creative signs of support for the LGBTQ2S+ community could be seen throughout the crowd gathered at the legislative grounds Sunday morning. Stephane Normandeau was there as an ally.

"I'm frankly opposed to the parent's rights thing and what's happening in our neighbouring provinces," he said. "So I figured it's important for someone who may not be directly part of the community such as myself to come and show support."

Matthew, Delaney, and Moses came to the rally together show their support for trans kids. Matthew said it is not an issue of parental rights.

"It's really all about controlling their kids, suppressing trans people, trans kids. We need to be here and show up and show support," he said.

"We're here, we're not going anywhere, and we're going to continue to support our trans kids," said Delaney.

"I believe everyone deserves to be who they are, and to express themselves however they want to express themselves," Moses said.

Webster said their message is very simple.

"We really want to make sure that we're endorsing love," he said. "We want love and acceptance over all."

Webster was at last Wednesday's anti-LGBTQ2S+ protest, and said it was a very negative experience.

"I saw so much vitriol and hate towards people who are doing nothing wrong," said Webster. "This is a response to that, saying 'no matter what you throw at us, it's not going to change, we're still going to be here."

Normandeau was at Sunday's rally because he's a parent. "I've got kids of my own, and maybe they’ll grow up to be trans or gay…if that's who they are then I support them and I want to show love everyone needs that support and love," he said.

Webster and other speakers rallied the crowd before leading them on a march down Broadway to The Forks. Webster said he was overwhelmed with support.

"We have so many people giving out free drinks, we have people who brought free sound systems for us. Just so many people who have donated and helped us. It just wouldn’t be possible without community." Top Stories

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