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Fredericton Pride sets sights on first parade

Growing committee plans bigger celebrations

"We danced in the street. We danced in city hall," says Pride 2010 co-chair Debi Skidmore (front, right) of the Pride committee's reaction to city council giving the okay for this summer's parade. Credit: Nick Logan photo

Fredericton Pride organizers couldn’t have been happier when city council granted permission this month for a parade to mark Pride in New Brunswick’s capital. Debi Skidmore, co-chair of the 2010 Pride committee, and Sarah McAdam, Pride liaison, say it’s another step forward for the queer community in the city.

“It means a lot,” says Skidmore, who will bring her 11-year-old son to the march. “My child is being raised to know that everybody is equal, every form of how you choose to love is valid. For him, it means a lot to be able to see this external from our home.”

According to Skidmore, a group of approximately 30 people attended the June 14 council meeting, where Mayor Brad Woodside initially skipped over the issue, but Woodside later realized the error and asked council to make a motion and vote on it, which they did unanimously. “I think it was a done deal before it even came up on the agenda, personally.”

What makes the decision even better news is that no other parades are on the slate for this summer as downtown Fredericton deals with a number of large construction projects. Pride marchers will take to the city’s riverside walking trails on Sunday, August 8 at 3 pm. Organizers hope the mayor will come out to say a few words to participants.

Fredericton Pride wanted to hold a parade last year, McAdam says, but instead opted for a “Random Acts of Kindness” day, with members of the local queer community doing odd jobs for free in the downtown area. That event was cancelled on the day, due to bad weather and low volunteer turnout.

A team of four organized events for last year’s celebration, which was dubbed the capital city’s “first gay pride.” This year the committee has grown to approximately 12-15 regulars. The larger group has brought a lot of new ideas to the table, even though it takes a lot longer to reach a final decision.

“Everything has to be done by consensus this year,” she explains. “While that’s been hard, it’s also been necessary. If you’re going to grow, you’re going to wind up with more people pulling in different directions.” The committee, Skidmore elaborates, is now much more capable of “plowing through” the red tape and paperwork and reaching further into the community to increase attendance.

The committee is also trying to show that Fredericton Pride isn’t just a bar-oriented event. While boom! nightclub is Pride’s main supporter — offering space for meetings and fundraising events — McAdam and Skidmore want to assuage criticism that Pride is too connected to the club.

McAdam say the loyalty to boom! has “nothing to do with employees (including herself) being involved.” It’s because no other groups or businesses have stepped up to offer venues free of charge to host events. All activities outside of the bar — such as family day — are being held in public spaces.

“It’s a considerable slap in the face if we told them ‘Although you’re giving us everything for free, we’re not going to have anything to do with you because we don’t want the community to think that we’re favouring you.'”

Fredericton Pride has moved the eight-day celebration from June to the second week of August, in line with already scheduled festivals in Saint John (August 6-15) and Moncton (August 15-22). For information visit the Fredericton Pride 2010 Facebook page or email info@frederictonpride.com