As Tammy Dopson prepared to round the corner of Kent and Gladstone during Sunday’s Capital Pride parade, she soaked in the opportunity to gaze out at the crush of colorful revelers leading the procession.
For her and the event’s newly minted organizing committee, that enthusiastic crowd marked the culmination of all their hard work over the past months reviving the annual celebration of Ottawa’s queer community.
After a turbulent year, Capital Pride had returned.
“We turned around and we just looked at this mass of colour, balloons, and sound, and it just filled us. This is the moment that it’s all really about,” says Dopson, Capital Pride’s chair. “It was my favourite moment and that moment of positivity and celebration is really what this is all about.”
The struggles facing Ottawa’s annual Pride celebrations have been well documented. The event’s previous organizing committee declared bankruptcy late last year amid cost overruns and issues with unpaid suppliers. In the fallout, serious concerns were mounted that the event might not return for its 30th anniversary showing in 2015.
Then a new organization, borne out of a partnership between community members and the Bank Street Business Improvement Area, emerged prepared to stage the event.
After years of concluding at city hall, the new group immediately set about returning the parade to the heart of Ottawa’s gay village along Bank Street in a move that was well received by event goers.
“It was a lot closer to my place and it shut down fewer major thoroughfares,” attendee Elena Sanchez says of the parade’s return to Bank Street. “I’m sure drivers were happier too.”
Dopson says she received “phenomenal” feedback at the parade, with most attendees she spoke to gushing about the event’s new setup.
“The people who participated were just thrilled — overall, people were very happy,” she says, terming the initial reaction to the event as a “great success.”
Dopson credits the new parade route, which began at Bank and Gladstone before concluding at the Somerset intersection, for allowing organizers to ensure most Pride events were held in the city’s officially designated gay village.
The foot traffic drawn to the festival’s central area along Bank was “tremendous,” she adds.
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A pro-Conservative Party queer group also marched in the event, despite an online campaign urging organizers to boot them from the proceedings.
Members of LGBTory Canada waved rainbow placards and flags featuring the logos of both the federal Conservative party and Ontario Progressive Conservative party as they made their way along the parade route.
The online petition, which attracted just over 200 signatures, accuses the organization of backing politicians who have actively worked against the interests of the LGBT community.
It specifically targets Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown, who marched with the group in Toronto’s Pride parade last month, referencing his votes as an MP to repeal same-sex marriage and against bills that sought to add “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the protections afforded in the Human Rights Act and Criminal Code.