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More Pride please

Plenty of fests yet to come

TAKE ME TO THE RIVER. Windsor's Pride Parade will conclude with a festival at the Riverfront Festival Plaza on Sun, Jul 20. Credit: (COURTESY OF WINDSOR PRIDE)

Toronto’s Pride Week may now be only a delicious memory but the party doesn’t end with the post-parade revelry on Church St. Cities and towns across Ontario will be celebrating the season all summer long.

Windsor

The city to the far southwest of the province is offering up more than a week of Pride festivities, organized by the Windsor Pride Community.

“It’s truly a community-based festival,” says Jason A Patterson with the festival committee. “While Toronto’s Pride is certainly enjoyable… festivals in smaller communities like ours are even more important as we try to achieve the level of tolerance and acceptance which already exists in big centres like Toronto and Montreal.”

The events kick off with a free Pride picnic at Memorial Park (1075 Ypres Blvd) on Sat, Jul 12 from noon to 4pm. The alcohol-free event will include food and games for the kids. The following day there’s a second picnic at 551 Pelissier Ave, this one for the over-50 crowd. RSVP by Jun 30 at (519) 973-4656 ext 50.

The city’s Pride festival officially kicks off with a flag-raising ceremony on Mon, Jul 14 at 9:30am at Windsor’s City Hall Square (Goyeau St). The rest of the week will include film presentations, a Pride bowling tournament and music performances.

On Sat, Jul 19 the outdoor Riverfront Festival Plaza will host Windsor’s first Pride Dance Party, featuring live music, DJs Shawn Ryker and Jamal and a performance by Sofonda Cox. The event starts at 9:30pm; admission is $5.

The week culminates with the city’s Pride parade and festival on Sun, Jul 20. The parade begins at 12:30pm at Elliott and Goyeau and winds up back at the Riverfront Festival Plaza where the festival takes over.

For more info check out Windsorpride.com.

Peel

This year marks the fifth anniversary of Peel Pride. The weekend will begin with a pre-Pride dance party at Norma Jeanes (5977 Dixie Rd in Mississauga) on Fri, Jul 18 beginning at 9pm.

The region will celebrate its Pride Day on Sun, Jul 20 with the annual Pride Picnic at Heart Lake Conservation Area (10818 Heart Lake Rd, three kilometres north of Highway 7). The picnic willl run from noon until 4pm, or shine. The event is free but there is an admission charge of $6 for adults to get into the park.

For more information go to Prideeventspeel.com.

London

London will be awash in Pride festivities during this year’s 10-day celebration. In keeping with the spirit of the this year’s theme — “Flying High with Pride” — the rainbow flag will be flying at London’s City Hall for the second year in a row, with a flag-raising ceremony taking place Fri, Jul 18.

“Last year the flag was flown for the very first time,” says Eugene Dustin, president of Pride London Festival. “We’re happy to be doing it again this year.”

This year marks the 26th-annual Pride celebration in London. “Of course it was nothing like it is today,” says Dustin. “It was just a one-day picnic event in Gibbons Park that was organized by the Metropolitan Community Church for the GLBT community.”

The city’s annual Pride family picnic event will take place on Sat, Jul 19 and 20 at the north pavilion of Gibbons Park. To make the event more family-friendly organizers have added the new Kid Zone area, which will feature face painting and other activities.

“With the Kid’s Zone addition this year the response had been great and everybody’s very excited over it,” says Dustin. “Before this the same-sex couples that did have children thought there really wasn’t a whole lot for them to do.”

Other festivities include a reception, a queer art show featuring local artists, a Pride literary night and nightly theatre shows.

On Sun, Jul 27 London’s Pride Parade will take place, beginning from Central Spa (722 York St).

“The attitude here has progressed a lot,” says Dustin. “It’s not at the point where we could say. ‘We don’t need Pride anymore,’ but believe me even in the five years that I’ve been involved it’s progressed a lot. About 25 percent of our attendance is from the straight community.”

For more info check out Pridelondon.ca.

Simcoe County

Orillia, Barrie and Midland — collectively known as Simcoe County — will celebrate Pride beginning Sat, Aug 9 with a flag-raising ceremony in front of the Orillia Opera House (20 Mississaga St E). The ceremony will be followed by a Pride lunch at the Brewery Bay (117 Mississaga St E).

“Last year we had a great turn out for the flag raising and people were lined up on the street,” says Mike Stahls, a member of Orillia Pride.

Sun, Aug 17 marks an afternoon patio party at the Ossawippi Express Dining Cars outdoor patio (210 Mississaga St), with a lovely view of Lake Couchiching.

“Orillia has been very accepting for us,” says Stahls. “Everyone that we’ve approached about holding Pride parties have been totally into it. We also put posters up and down the main street, and last year we only had one person who didn’t want the poster up.”

Stahls says that the group is still in the midst of organizing events. “Tentatively we’re trying to have a social night on the Fri, Aug 8, the night before the flag raising…. We’re also communicating with local high school gay alliance groups to see if there are some events that we can do for the underage crowd. We’ve been thinking about throwing a party at a local mini golf park, but nothing has been confirmed yet.”

For more info go to Orilliapride.ca.

Maynooth

North of Bancroft and just off the east gate of Algonquin Park, Maynooth is arguably the smallest community in the province to host its own Pride Day. Last year’s event saw some 100 revellers — a mix of straight and gays, locals and big city folks.

This year’s event will take place Sun, Aug 3 on the 10-acre grounds of Wildewood, a local bed and breakfast owned by couple Joey Shulman and Barry Siegrist. Out-of-towners are invited to set up tents on the property and join in on the fun, which will include a parade around the pond, a potluck dinner, fireworks and a bonfire.

“We’re good to go, rain or shine,” says Shulman, who says that most participants find out about the event through word of mouth.

“Last year was great because we heard from quite a radius around the area… it was great to meet the new people, some cottagers. It’s a real mix of straight and gay and lesbian.”

The local contingent of out homos is growing, in large part thanks to Wildewood; several regular visitors to the guesthouse have bought land after falling in love with the area.

“There’s an agreement with the postmistresss now,” says Shulman. “If she thinks anyone’s gay or lesbian she lets us know.”

For more info check out wildewood.net.

Ottawa

The nation’s capital will be celebrating from Mon, Aug 18 to 24 with the theme Live Your Pride. Earlier this year Capital Pride — renamed from Ottawa-Gatineau Pride Festival in 2006 — unveiled its plans for this year’s party alongside a brand new logo.

“It had to be something very simple, something that could be integrated with anything,” says logo designer and former Capital Pride volunteer Glenn Crawford. The logo shows a star within two circles — the symbol traditionally used in cartography to indicate a nation’s capital.

The festival, now in its 22nd year, has made quite a comeback from 2006, when Ottawa’s city council threatened to close it down due to ballooning debt. Now, with debts reduced by 35 percent and long-term payment plans arranged for many of their creditors, organizers are in a good mood.

“We’re back for an even better year,” says Capital Pride chair Joanne Law.

Organizers are keeping it simple in 2008 — focusing on keeping costs down, promoting local talent and reaping the rewards of regular, smallish fundraisers in the hopes of putting a dent in Capital Pride’s $90,000 outstanding tab.

The week kicks off on Mon, Aug 18 at 4pm with a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall (110 Laurier Ave W), followed by a reception hosted by the mayor at 4:30pm.

Other highlights include a human rights vigil on on Aug 19, a youth cabaret on Aug 21 and a comedy night, Laugh Out Proud, on Aug 22. As in Toronto women take centre stage on the Saturday with Ottawa’s Dyke March along Elgin St.

Organizers say they’re anticipating 50,000 to come out for the big day on Aug 24. The parade begins at 1pm and is followed by a community fair at Garden of the Provinces (80 Bay St).

For more info check out Capitalpride.ca.