Pride festival kicks off Friday
Annual event keeps growing
Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 06:00 am
Edmonton Pride Festival
June 6 to 15
Numerous locations: Visit edmontonpride.ca
There is a growing acceptance of the LGBTQ community in the capital region that a generation ago was unthinkable to some.
“Last year we had the first flag raised at an army base and we had the first premier to attend a parade. We’re seeing more change and by having a festival, we’re hoping to break down walls,” said Kyle Brown, communications director for the fast approaching Edmonton Pride Festival.
It is the festival’s 34th anniversary and the 10-day event runs Friday, June 6 to Sunday, June 15 at numerous locations throughout Edmonton.
Sexy, sassy and singular, it is a dynamic expression of many different types of personalities within the LGBTQ community.
While Canadians across the nation are free to express their sexuality, many people acknowledging an alternative lifestyle in Russia, Africa, the Middle East, parts of Asia and the Caribbean face imprisonment or death.
Edmonton Pride Festival’s 2014 theme is Together in Pride: Worldwide.
Festival co-chair Terry Harris explained that it piggybacked on WorldPride 2014 Toronto, one of the biggest international events that offer 10 days of queer celebrations. It incorporates activism, education, history and the culture of global communities.
“It’s a broader global celebration and the news of what is happening in Russia and Africa in terms of legislation is not good for the LGBTQ community,” said Harris.
The Edmonton Pride Festival, with decidedly fewer resources, is following its big brother’s footsteps on a smaller scale.
On Monday, June 9, a program titled Our City of Queer Champions meets at the Art Gallery of Alberta to join a panel of queer storytellers for a cruise through people, places and events that were critical to developing the LGBTQ community.
An educational preamble to the festival on Thursday, June 5 is the first outdoor Pecha Kucha Night that features a slide show on local ideas and projects.
Following on Friday night is Fruit Loop on the Square, where visitors can relax in a tented beer garden. Entertainment varies from different styles of DJs to live vocals and dancing.
“It’s basically an alternative to a bar,” Brown said.
Once again the festival’s big event is the flamboyant Pride Parade on Saturday that travels down 102 Avenue from 107 Street to Winston Churchill Avenue. There are a record 82 entries with strong support from the business community.
“One of the new things for the festival this year is that Shaw will film the parade and play it on TV. You may have seen clips on the news, but the whole parade has never been done,” Harris said.
Following the parade, revelers are encouraged to enjoy a complete day of non-stop entertainment at Sir Winston Churchill Square.
St. Albert’s own Jessy Mossop, slated to perform on the main stage at 5:15 p.m., is excited to support the cause.
“This festival is different because you are trying to support people who are openly gay. Other festivals you’re supporting musicians and having a good party. At this festival it’s so open. Everyone does their own thing. You don’t have to worry about being judged,” says Mossop.
She plans to unveil a new act as the lead singer with two backup dancers from the burlesque troop The Pinheruppers.
Also on Saturday, Visionary College instructor Curtis Labelle is performing two shows at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. at the Churchill Square Wine Bar. As well, Paul Kane High student Julia Nicholson closes the sets at 5 p.m. with her powerful country vocals.
Throughout the festival organizers have planned a series of concerts, comedy shows, hotel parties, barbecues, picnics, open mikes, sports and recreation events and even a seniors tea.
As Harris puts it, the festival has been a life changer for many.
“People in the closet see other people having gone through it and that others are there to support them. It’s a great information session and they can see all their allies. It’s not just gay people. It’s allies too. Some of my friends were terrified to come out until they saw how many people were there to support them. It pushed them to come out.”
For a downloadable booklet with a complete schedule of events visit edmontonpride.ca.