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Lauryn Kronick: one-woman whirlwind

New face hopes to mend relations between Capital Pride & the Dyke March

Lauryn Kronick Credit: Paul Galipeau

She is the Phantom of the Opera, the elusive creature of the night that terrorized an opera company. Her reputation precedes her.

It is the end of the day, and the Halloween party is over, the Phantom costume gradually coming undone.

Kronick sits opposite me at a table in a quiet corner of Oz Café. She sips her drink — a bright green martini garnished with assorted berries — and bits of her glitter fall, the stars studded above her eyes dropping onto the table.

Kronick is a vivacious and bubbly woman who can talk a mile a minute without much encouragement. She is wacky, unapologetically sex positive, a femme of vintage fashion and, above all, a woman with enough energy to take on Ottawa’s queer event calendar.

Kronick recently returned to Ottawa after an eight-year absence. She received her undergraduate degree from Concordia University in Montreal before going to Zambia to work with Journalists for Human Rights. She spent eight months there before returning to Ottawa in 2009.

With no job and few friends in town, Kronick decided to throw herself into the queer arena.

Within a year, she was on the Dyke March organizing committee and was the media co-coordinator for Capital Pride.

This year, Kronick has added more notches to her belt. She writes a fashion blog for Apartment 613 and is on the steering committees of both the Village Committee and Ottawa’s Nuit Blanche. She remains a part of the Dyke March and has just been elected to the Pride board for 2011, as vice-chair for communications and marketing.

Why take on so much?

“Because I give a damn. I give a damn and I am passionate about connecting people to their community and connecting people to each other. When I came back to this city a year ago, I didn’t know anybody, and the way to meet people was to get involved,” says Kronick.

Kronick is one of five new members elected to the Pride committee. Three of them are women; all are under 40 and come from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. They reflect the changing face of Pride — one that is diverse and eager to revitalize Ottawa’s “most colourful festival.”

“I was interested in joining the Pride committee because I felt it was lacking in diversity in terms of gender representation, age representation and people coming from different backgrounds. And as a bilingual person, I really want Pride to strive to be more bilingual,” says Kronick.

Kronick is also hatching plans to bring two segments of the queer community together — the Dyke March and Pride. It’s a tall order for two groups that have often fought over programming on the Saturday before the Pride parade. Dyke March organizers have traditionally organized a picnic after the march at either Minto Park or Jack Purcell. It is crowded; women sprawl on the grass, stand on the sidelines and slip around the corner to get food.

In contrast, the Women’s Stage, organized annually by Capital Pride on the same afternoon, has a dearth of atmosphere and people. The stage is big and the grounds spacious — there are plenty of places to eat, sit, drink, dance and catch up with old and new friends. However, no one goes there, and the musicians play to an empty plaza, partly because Capital Pride charges a $5 entry fee.

Kronick plans to change all that.

She wants to open the Women’s Stage to the dyke community. She hopes women will have a say in scheduling the entertainment for the afternoon — choosing the bands and the speakers. Kronick also wants the Dyke March to end at the site of the Women’s Stage and to offer free admission for anyone who attends the Dyke March.

It’s a compromise — and potentially a tough sell — but Kronick is optimistic that this can happen.

While she juggles the politics of Pride Week, Kronick will also be making her mark in other areas.  Since Diane Holmes was reelected as councillor for Somerset Ward, anticipation that Village-themed street signs will be approved by the city has grown.

If that happens, an official gay village could be found at the end of the rainbow. But signs or no signs, the Village Committee plans to make the Village a vibrant area, and now Kronick is part of that team, taking on the committee’s public art portfolio.

Art is a passion for Kronick. She works at the Canada Council for the Arts  (a childhood dream fulfilled) and she is part of an initiative to bring Nuit Blanche, an all-night outdoor art party, to Ottawa.

Kronick wants to use different venues to showcase artists — both local and from outside the city. At the moment, plans for the 12-hour Nuit Blanche are in the early stages.

By the end of her second green-tini, Kronick has lost most of her phantom glitter. When we leave, Kronick picks up her belongings — all vintage and not necessarily practical for the cold weather, but it is her style and she is proud of it. 

“I consider myself to be pretty wacky and fearless, which is why I only wear ridiculous dresses. Vintage. I am allergic to pants. I hate pants,” says Kronick. “I would say I am like a ’50s to ’60s vintage pinup girl rockabilly, with a whole lot of queer femme — I rock the femme label pretty proudly.”

Correction:  Capital Pride has been aiming to connect with Dyke March organizers for several years now and has yet to succeed in using the women’s stage at Festival Plaza for Dyke March programming. This was not an original idea as proposed in the article.