The 17th annual Kootenay Pride celebration is in Nelson this weekend.
The festivities include casual meet and greets, nightly entertainment, a roller derby scrimmage and a parade and rally on Baker Street — all to embrace and raise awareness of the sexual diversity in our region.
Brad Fergusson, one of 11 organizers of the weekend events, said folks come from around the region and as far away as Vancouver be part of Kootenay Pride.
“We throw a pretty good party here,” Fergusson said, noting a lot of people who make the trip from out of town have friends or family in the area. “We’ll have about as many people as they do at Kelowna Pride, which is surprising given the population difference.”
Nelson is generally seen as a progressive community, and Fergusson said it’s easy to be out and proud here. But people in other places in the world aren’t so lucky.
Russia’s anti-gay legislation, including a new federal law banning the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors (i.e. anywhere in public), has sparked outrage among LGBT activists around the world, particularly because the laws will apply to international athletes in the country for the Winter Olympics this February.
Kootenay Pride will show their disapproval of Russia’s new laws during the Pride Parade on Sunday. According to Fergusson, there will be a special two-sided float dedicated to the issue. On one side people will be trapped in a cage, guarded by folks dressed up as Vladimir Putin and state police officers, while on the other side the cage will be empty and people will be celebrating with the message “it is not a crime.”
“It’s kind of a more subtle way of raising awareness about what the Russian government is doing, without making overt political statement,” Fergusson said of the float, adding that the controversy makes him glad to be living where he is.
“This whole weekend, it’s really a thank you to the wonderful communities we live in here, for just being so amazingly awesome,” he said. “We hope everyone will come be a part of the celebration.”