A rainbow flag will flap in the wind in front of Fredericton City Hall next week as the city, for the first time, joins communities across the country this summer in a celebration of Pride.
Capital City Pride, running from Sun, Jun 21 to Sat, Jun 27, will honour everybody’s right to love who you want, says organizer Sarah McAdam.
“Everybody together,” she says. “Everyone stand together and be proud of who you are instead of dividing up into little groups.”
The gay community wants positive exposure, says organizer PJ Spencer, who initiated the plan to hold Pride week. She and McAdam have tailored events to increase acceptance and visibility. Rather than holding a parade on the final day, as many cities do, Fredericton’s Pride will culminate with a “Random Acts of Kindness” day.
Teams dressed in rainbow colours will visit downtown residents and businesses on Saturday to offer their services for the afternoon.
“It’s a positive way, for this first year, to grab a hold of the city,” she says, “and use that positive experience to get us slowly accepted and continue to hold this every year.”
Frederictonians have been divided, in the past, on the issue of Pride. A debate broke out in 1998 after then and current Mayor Brad Woodside was taken to the Human Rights Commission for refusing to proclaim Pride. He lost his case before a tribunal and was ordered to make the proclamation. He did so in November of that year, but only after he turned off his microphone.
In more recent years, the city’s alternative and gay-friendly nightclub, Boom!, has held annual Pride parties, but all of those events centred around the bar.
Spencer attended Pride in other cities last year and returned frustrated by the lack of any community-oriented celebration in her city. She decided to take matters into her own hands and approached McAdam last fall to help coordinate.
The pair began raising funds through hosting regular art shows, selling hand-made Pride jewellery and partnering with AIDS New Brunswick to put on dances.
The owners of Boom! Nightclub — Steve DeWitt and Michael Young — have been endlessly supportive, says McAdam. She dubs them the “grandfathers of Pride” in Fredericton.
Even though events will take place in different locations around the city, the bar will still serve as the epicentre many for the week’s festivities.
Activities for all ages and inclinations will include a Pride church service, tubing along the Nashwaak River, sports day in O’Dell Park and an end-of-Pride concert at the Delta Fredericton Hotel.
Following the rainbow flag raising and reading of the Pride Week proclamation, Monday, guest lecturers will speak at Boom! in the evening about issues such as: homosexual history; love, sex, and religion; and cultural education.
Both organizers know the inaugural Capital City Pride is one small step, but they’re aiming for enough community involvement and positive feedback to continue the tradition, bigger and better, next year.
Jun 21: Church service at the Unitarian Fellowship (on York St) and Art Show at Boom! Nightclub.
Jun 22: Flag raising and proclamation reading at City Hall, guest speakers in the evening at Boom! Nightclub.
Jun 23: Tubing Tuesday down the Nashwaak River to River’s Edge campground.
Jun 24: Sports Day in O’Dell Park and after drinks at Boom! Nightclub.
Jun 25: Kings and Queens Drag Show, Gender Bender Karaoke at Boom! Nightclub.
Jun 26: So You Think You Can Dance Finale at Boom! Nightclub, with performances by Shannon Venasse and Absolute Fiction. Leather Competition later in the night.
Jun 27: Random Act of Kindness Day around downtown Fredericton, Concert at the Delta with Shannon Venasse, Absolute Fiction, Sabor Latino and more, followed by the All-Colour Party and Pride 2009 Recap and performance by Kaylee Hopkins at Boom! Nightclub.
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