Expected to be its biggest event in recent years, LGBT Xpo 2016 should be a cheery, family-friendly convention of queers and the organizations who love them.
Originally organized and sponsored primarily by Xtra, the day-long, not-for-profit event provides members of the community the opportunity to meet representatives of, and learn about, queer and queer-friendly businesses, organizations and services in Ottawa. The annual event went on hiatus in 2008, when Xtra closed its Ottawa offices.
Since two Ottawa locals, Donald Walker and Justin Minnes, revived the event in 2014, it has grown steadily in size. By all accounts, the first event was quite small. The 2015 event grew to 32 vendors, and this year’s event had 35 vendors registered at time of publication (and more rolling in).
It will feature everyone from community groups like Bruce House and the Ottawa Knights to such sports organizations as the Ottawa Frontrunners and the Rainbow Rockers Curling League.
“We always have new vendors coming in . . . and a lot of returning people, which sort of shows us people believe in what we’re doing,” Minnes says. “We’ve also had more small businesses approach us, which was nice, so we didn’t have to do as much outreach. It’s the third year and people have kind of heard of us a little bit.”
He also expects to have higher attendance than last year. “We’re getting more engagement on the [Facebook] page, and more messages and that kind of thing, so it certainly seems like there’s more interest,” he says. Beyond those planning to stop by, Minnes hopes the event’s flyering and postering campaign will encourage more foot traffic on the day.
This year’s event will also feature a seminar for would-be parents called Becoming a Foster Parent, presented by The Children’s AID Society of Ottawa. “It seems to be topical,” Minnes says. “And also just in my own peer group a lot of people are talking about expanding the family . . . and how do you do that in a way that makes sense. What are the risks? The ups and downs?”