As the 2SLGBTQ+ community faces increased backlash, Pride Month is needed now more than ever

Pride Week is back Calgary! Aug. 26 to Sept. 4 is a week-long celebration of showing your true colours for the city to behold. Pride Week inspires us all to open our hearts and minds to those who are different from us. We all know that Calgary is a diverse city and not just by cultures. As a diversified metropolis — the third most diverse in Canada — here you will likely meet many people who have different gender identities, expressions and sexual orientations. They, too, are looking for a place where they can belong. 

In an interview, the manager of communications Anna Kinderwater shares what Calgary Pride Week is all about.

What can we expect to see at this year’s Calgary Pride?

AK: Our parade which we are holding on Sunday, Sept. 3 at 10 a.m. is the highlight for the queer community. This year we are starting it from the 016 Indigo Parking Lot and will end up at Fort Calgary. It will be full of colourful characters in a positive, safe and inclusive atmosphere. When the parade is finished, we will start off the Sunday Pride Festival at Prince’s Island Park. This is the day where it is our family-friendly event and it’s going to run from noon until later because of a movie we are showing in the park. Our 18-plus event is on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. It starts at 2 p.m., but we stop serving alcohol at 6 p.m.  Many people look forward to the food trucks, music and activities there is to enjoy.

What can you tell us about Calgary Pride history?

AK: The organization has been around for over 20 years. During that time, we continually looked for ways to educate and reach out to the community. What started out as a way to inform the public and celebrate compassion, Pride has managed to create a free, fun and accessible festival. We wanted to show that we are active members of the city working side-by-side with others.

Because of the pandemic we did have to do a lot of work online but we have taken extra precautions to ensure the public’s health and safety.   

What does the organization hope to achieve

AK: We want to create a safe space for people to be loud and proud about who they are. Everyone has a voice and deserves to be heard. People have a natural fear of the unknown. What we want to do is lift that veil and show that there is nothing to be afraid of. With a little understanding and a lot of acceptance, we can all do some great things together. At Calgary Pride, we recognize that everyone has different experiences, opinions and some who might not have been exposed to our Pride Festival. We still welcome all of those who wish to see what it is truly about.

How can the public show their support?

AK: It’s easy. Even if you are not part of the LGBTQ (community), you can show that you are an ally by doing small things. If you display our flag on your lawn, wear a pin or have a sympathetic bumper sticker displayed that is a good way to show your support if you can’t make it to the Pride Festival. But if you can make it, just remember that your presence is vital. It is greatly appreciated and you are letting others know that they are not alone. 

What has Calgary Pride achieved so far?

AK: We have created multiple programs that has helped integrate ourselves in society. Programs such as our “Reading with Royalty,” in which we have drag performers reading to youths at the Calgary Public Library. This is just a way where we can answer some questions that kids and their families are looking to ask us but don’t know who to reach out to. We have also connected with a lot of businesses, gotten into a lot of partnerships, and leaned into the community.  

What are the organization’s plans for the future?

AK: We are currently a non-hierarchy, peer-management type of organization. At Calgary Pride, no matter what your position is, you are free to share ideas and everyone is equal. Our hope is to keep that going but we also want to reach out and help out others who may be facing some kind of discrimination (ie. racial, ethnic, etc.). 

If we can create more jobs with this, along with getting different perspectives on various issues, and letting others know that they are seen, then we can have a real hope for a brighter future. 

Is there anything else you want the public to know? 

AK: We appreciate all folks who are looking to learn more about our organization and what we do. Anyone who allows us to lean in and leans towards us in return, shows that compassion and empathy are still alive in this community. For that we thank you.

As we all know, the world is filled with many wonderfully unique people. One of the best things we can do for others and ourselves is to accept each other’s differences. There are things we don’t agree with nor would we understand, but that just stresses why we have to be kind to each other and not pass judgement. Because in the end, we are all looking for love. May the world be free of prejudice and let love reign. 

SIDEBAR

Are you ready to see what a world of inclusivity looks like? Here are some events happening that can help you with that.

Reading With Royalty: Presented by TD Bank Group and partnered with Calgary Pride, this bit of educational fun is for kids ages zero to eight years. Held in various Calgary Public Libraries, dazzling family-friendly performers lead a special storytime for young audience. Celebrate 45 minutes of inclusivity and diversity with the King, Queen, and Monarchs of Drag. (calgarylibrary.ca/events-and-programs/programs/reading-with-royalty/)

YYC Pop-up Pride Market: The third go-round for this event and a chance to get a little shopping done or do some business networking with the Local 2SLGBTQ+ community. Expect a fabulous scheduled drag show, hear some marvellous music, and shop from some of Calgary’s local artisans. Sunday Aug. 27 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Bridgeland-Riverside Community Park, 917 Centre St. N.E.

Citywide Pride Interfaith Gathering: For the fifth time, Affirming Connections and Calgary’s Network of Affirming Faith Communities are at it again. With music and storytelling from the talented Emmet Michael, this event will be all about celebrating queer identities and inclusive meditations. You can tune in online or come in person. Sunday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m., Beth Tzedec Congregation, 1325 Glenmore Tr. S.W.

Calgary Pride Festival: Getting bigger and better every year, for two days Calgarians can enjoy some extraordinary performances, food trucks, marketplaces, pet activities and much more. On the Saturday, it’s an adult’s night, where people can enjoy the beer gardens and, on the Sunday, it is a family-friendly zone which will finish the day with a movie night. Saturday, Sept. 2 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 3, from 12 to 9 p.m. Prince Island Park.

Calgary Pride Parade: Next to the Calgary Stampede, the Calgary Pride Parade, which happens on a Sunday this year, is something to look forward to. This is the showcase for the 2SLGBTQ+ community to show the world who they truly are. Sunday, Sept. 3, 10 a.m.,  marching from 016 Indigo Parking Lot on 9 Ave. S.W. to Fort Calgary, 750 9 Ave. S.E.

Calgary Pride runs Aug. 25 to Sept. 4 at various venues. For more information please go to calgarypride.ca.