As Canada’s fourth largest Pride festival gets underway, drawing queer people from across the Atlantic provinces, here are a few events worth checking out that you might not find in the official Halifax Pride guide.
Dykes vs Divas
Pride is technically a 10-day festival in Halifax, starting July 16 with the city hall flag raising and the Queer Acts Theatre festival (July 16-18). For many locals, however, the annual Dykes vs Divas softball game (Sunday, July 19) featuring hot dykes, high heels, outfit changes and mid-game makeovers is the unofficial official kick-off to Pride. Co-sponsored by the East Coast Rainbow Softball Association, this event is right cute.
Craving more drag? Check out Halifax’s Queen Mother, Rouge Fatale, and her Glamazon Army (Friday, July 24, 9pm), the Gender F_CK show (also Friday, at 8pm), the RuPaul-famous Jujubee at The Grind (also Friday, at 9pm) or the “Fabulous History of Drag” TimeOut lecture with Dr Chris Frazer (Tuesday, July 21).
Dance, Dance, Dance
There is something to be said for being in a sea of hot, sweaty, queer and trans bodies. Much dancing will be had at Menz and Mollyz and the Company House throughout Pride. A traditional cruising spot for local homos, Citadel Hill (the Garrison Grounds) will also be the apropos scene of two outdoor Pride parties: the Grind and Wetspot.
Recent revellers may not know that Wetspot was started 11 years ago by Girlish Productions as an alternative to gender-segregated parties that excluded trans people, and was first frequented by queer women and trans folks.
“In a lot of ways, we’d like to think that it’s the same event, in the sense that it still represents the initial hopes and ideals of the first years, but in other ways, it has taken on a life of its own,” says organizer Leigh James Brown. “As long as folks understand where it came from, and why, that’s okay.”
This year’s Pride co-sponsored party will feature local darling DJ Goldilocks and Neon Dreams. “I expect, as usual, that WetSpot will be a magical way to end the week,” Brown says.
Beyond Parties and Parades
Perennial favourites the TimeOut Lecture Series, presented by the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, and Venus Envy’s Reading Out Loud (Thursday, July 23, 7pm), where people read out loud from works that have moved them, will work your brain (and heart) rather than your dancing feet.
This year’s noontime TimeOut Lectures will be held at the newish Central Library and feature topics such as “Two-Spirit Identity in the Atlantic Region” (Wednesday, July 22) and “Exploring the B: a panel on bisexual* experience” (Thursday, July 23).
Proud of our Past
Halifax Pride began as a political demonstration organized by the Gay Alliance for Equality in 1988. This year’s Pride offers ample opportunities to learn about LGBT history. The post-Dykes vs Divas Gottingen Community gathering (Sunday, July 19 at 3pm) will feature activist and community organisations and aims to “activate community space and celebrate our history.” Halifax Pride will also screen the 1984 documentary Times of Harvey Milk (Monday, July 20, 6pm), OutEast will partner to show the legendary and controversial Paris is Burning (Wednesday, July 22, 6:30pm) and Rad Pride will present Pride (Monday, July 20, 5:30pm).
Queer and Trans People of Colour Unite
In the new and sorely needed department are three (non-Halifax Pride run) events aimed at, or featuring, queer and trans people of colour.
Facilitated by Montreal “femme supreme” Kama La Mackerel, “Nails, Make-up and Armours” is a closed workshop for self-identifying femmes of colour (Wednesday, July 22, 7pm at Venus Envy).
La Mackarel is also collaborating with fellow Montreal artist Kai Chen Thom (Lady Sin Trayda) and Rad Pride for a performance of Home Invasion: Queers Shaking the Foundations of All White Houses at 8:30pm (doors 8pm) at the Khyber Centre for the Arts on Cornwallis Street.
“Even if it’s just one or two people who end up coming to the event who have never been in a space like that — it’s just a moment of recognition where we see each other, and we recognize each other, and we recognize that we exist,” La Mackerel says. “That’s the revolution, you know. That’s such a transformative moment.”
Rad Pride will also hold a closed space for queer and trans people of colour on Friday, July 24 at 9pm.
Alternatives to Pride
Rad Pride’s 2013 tagline said it all: “The first gay Pride was a riot.”
Not everyone feels comfortable in today’s corporate, mainstream Pride. “Two of the main aspects of Rad Pride are re-integrating a more political Pride that educates, critiques, and disrupts homonormativity,” the collective says, “as well as providing intentional spaces for people who feel explicitly or implicitly excluded from mainstream Pride celebrations.”
This year’s all-ages, sober, free and accessible Rad Pride events include a Trans Woman and Trans Feminine Discussion Space (Sunday, July 19, 4pm), an Asexual and Aromantic Discussion Space (Wednesday, July 22, 6:30pm) and crowd-favourite, the Dyke and Trans March (Friday, July 24, 6pm).
“The Dyke and Trans March is a yearly event that stands in defiant opposition to the corporate and de-politicized Pride parade,” the collective says. “This event is loud and proud and is about reclaiming identities in powerful and transformative ways through a community march.”