PARADING WITH PRIDE
More events, but still with a family-friendly focus
Sydney Pride Festival 2017 coming soon.
Sydney Pride Festival 2017 has new events, increased community involvement and new sponsors, as the annual event continues its growth trend.
One of the new sponsors on board is Eastlink, which is broadcasting the parade live on television Saturday, Aug. 5. The parade has grown so large that the route has been changed and grand marshals this year are the Eskasoni Pride committee.
“We were like, ‘wow, this is what we have been working towards,’” said Aaron Lahey, Pride Cape Breton festival director, when asked how he felt when he heard the news the parade would be televised.
“This year, we’ve had so many lastminute sponsors come on board. It makes us feel like we are achieving what we are trying to do.”
The festival runs from Friday, Aug. 4, to Saturday, Aug. 12, and kicks off with a flag-raising ceremony at the city hall at noon on the first day of the festival.
The Pride Cape Breton committee is trying increase the community involvement and the number of events at the annual festival, now in its 16th year, by inviting non-committee members to host and organize events that Pride Cape
Breton will promote.
“In the past, Pride Cape Breton has done all the events themselves, so this year we were trying to encourage community members to do events themselves,” Lahey explained.
It’s a model that works well for bigger Pride festivals, like the ones in Halifax and Toronto, however, Lahey stressed Pride Cape Breton is keeping their family-friendly approach.
He gave an example: “When you look at Toronto Pride, our parade is more family oriented … you aren’t going to see halfnaked men.”
What you are going to see is the return of some favourite
events like Dabbing Out Bingo Madness, So You Think You Can Drag and Movie in the Park.
There are some events added to the schedule like the Renegade Rainbow Run at Open Hearth Park on Sunday, Aug. 6, and the Human Library at McConnell Library on Wednesday, Aug. 9.
The Human Library is replacing story time. It’s a chance to find out information about the LGBTQ community from people instead of books.
“We have members of the community, from all different walks of life, whether it be two-spirited, bisexual, lesbian, or ally, telling their stories and
answering questions,” Lahey explained, excitement in his voice.
Another new event is the Evening of Remembrance, also on Aug. 9, at Wentworth Park. It is a vigil in memory of those in the community who have died. They are hoping to make it a permanent part of the annual festival.
Lahey explained why they wanted to add this event, “There’s a lot of people in everybody’s community, people in people’s lives that they have lost and these people need recognition.”
“It also brings people in the community together and reminds us why we still do this (Pride festival).”
However, this event and the others do more than bring the community together. They also provide an opportunity to help educate people about the LGBTQ community, whether they are non-LGBTQ or youth who feel they are.
“This generation that is coming up now, you are seeing more and more diversity. Kids are coming out at a younger age. So I think Pride is so important to educate them,” Lahey said.
He added: “You are still going to have people that don’t understand things in the community … I hear some people say, ‘Why do you still need it?’ All you have to do is log onto Facebook to be smacked in the face with reasons why you still need it. I think you will always need Pride.”
In this file photo, Rouge Fatale, a drag queen based out of Halifax, gets a kiss from his mom, Kim Spurrell, before the start of the Sydney 2016 Pride Festival parade.