They used to get jeers, but now they get cheers.
Nelson’s Pride Parade is 22 years old this year, and organizer Stephanie Myers believes the community has come a long way towards embracing its LGBTQ citizens and banishing homophobia from the Kootenays.
“This year I put out a call for help, and I got it in spades,” said Myers, who is planning four days of activities for September 1-4.
“The parade is only one portion of Kootenay Pride, really it’s going to take place the whole weekend and there will be a variety of activities and events.”
That includes a beach day, a men’s health tent, sex toy bingo and drag queen and king workshops. She wants it to be an inclusive, celebratory event that reaches the entire community.
“The first time they had the Pride Parade, it wasn’t a bunch of people cheering on the side of the road — it was a bunch of people jeering. That has changed dramatically not only here but in lots of other places.”
She noted, though, that there are many places in the world where people are murdered for being queer.
“We have to continue celebrating the freedoms we have and hopefully push the boundaries so more people can gain those freedoms as well.”
The weekend will open at Finley’s for a meet and greet on Friday evening, and Myers said the local bar has been a huge supporter of Pride. Further events and announcements will be coming through the Kootenay Pride Facebook page.
“This is not just for the LGBTQ community. It’s about people being proud of whatever they want to be proud of, and celebrating the fact we have the ability to celebrate.”