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DIY culture comes to Pride

Don't like official events? Do it yourself!

FIERCE. China White on Gio's float at Winnipeg Pride 2008.

Ticked off about the high cost of Pride? Don’t like corporate sponsors at community events?
 
Stacy Clark has a suggestion: Do it yourself!
 
When the Winnipegger saw what events were being offered by her local Pride committee, she didn’t see a gig that suits her style. This Sunday is Pride Day in Clark’s city and the official post-parade bash is a massive dance party at a straight club. Called Fusion, it’s popularly known as the “sweaty boys’ social” and sponsored by a vodka company. Tickets are $25 in advance or $40 at the door.
 
Clark decided she didn’t want to go. Then, she discovered her friends felt the same way. “People were concerned about accessibility, affordability and the type of music they want to listen to,” she says.
 
Plus, she adds, some queers were upset about a warning from this year’s Pride committee. “In all honesty, a lot of people were pissed off about the article on family-friendly Pride,” she says, referring to a decision by the Winnipeg Pride committee to ask participants to tone it down.
 
So, in keeping with Pride’s origins as a grassroots event, Clark and a group of friends got together and organized an alternative party for this Sunday night. Called Queer Pride, Clark promises it will be “low-key but still high-energy.” The DJs (including Clark, who spins as Jonny Mexico) are mostly women and the cover charge is $5. Doors open at 9pm. The party is taking place at a small venue called the Lo Pub, just a couple of blocks away from Fusion.
 
Clark doesn’t feel like her gang is competing with the Pride committee’s party. “These are people who wouldn’t have gone to Fusion, anyway,” she says. Besides, she sees an advantage for the whole festival: “It brings more people out to Pride.”
 
Clark is becoming a veteran of DIY Pride parties. A couple of years ago in Vancouver, she helped organize an event to protest the decision by the Pride committee in that city to incorporate the word ‘pride’. Clark’s event was called the Shame Party.
 
Wanna follow in Clark’s footsteps and organize a DIY Pride event in your own city this summer? Just take her advice — “Do it and make it happen!” — by following these four easy steps:
 
1) Pick a good venue. Clark likes places like Winnipeg’s Lo Pub because it’s not too big and not too small (capacity: 150). Plus, it’s hosted queer events in the past and it’s willing to let everyone in for free, in exchange for bar sales. “It’s a lot less hassle that way,” says Clark. The $5 cover will go towards the next two events that Clark’s collective wants to organize.
 
2) Get people excited. Clark says it’s important to start a collective and ask members for their ideas. “It needs to be a collaborative effort with different talents,” she says.
 
3) Find DJs and pay them fair wages. Since Queer Pride is a DIY party, anyone who wants to DJ is welcome to DJ. “We don’t want to turn anyone away,” Clark says. “There will be people who have never spun outside their homes.”
 
4) Get the word out. Clark suggests distributing leaflets and putting up posters, as well as launching a Facebook page. “Response has been very favourable,” she says.
 
“Winnipeg has a healthy queer community,” says Clark, “but it’s kind of hidden. I’m hoping this event helps bring it out.”
 
There are plenty more Pride events happening across Canada this summer. Do you know of a DIY Pride event in your city? If so, let Xtra.ca readers know by writing about it below!

A PACKED WEEKEND OF WINNIPEG PRIDE EVENTS

 
On Fri, Jun 12, there’s a Pride coffee house, fashion show and golf tournament, as well as a DIY party at the Albert called FIVE.ALIVE! hosted by trans.zine.
 
On Sat, Jun 13, there’s a tennis tournament during the day and a Pride fundraiser called Cocktails in the Trees at night. After that, Winnipeg’s community-run bar, Gio’s, is hosting a drag show headlined by US import Jackie Beat.
 
On Sun, Jun 14, the annual Pride rally starts at 12:30pm at the Manitoba Legislature, followed by a parade through downtown Winnipeg. The march ends at Memorial Park with a business and community fair, not to mention entertainment by Kate Reid, Jeffery Straker and Suss Trio. At the same time, Gio’s is throwing a party featuring porn star Brent Everett and go-go boys from Celebrities nightclub in Vancouver. Finally, the Pride committee’s official dance party, Fusion, kicks off at 8pm at Blush Ultraclub, on Portage Avenue across from the MTS Centre.
 
For more information about official Pride events, visit gaypridewinnipeg.com.