Despite overcast skies and the possibility of showers, attendance at Calgary’s Pride parade yesterday was excellent. A few thousand people came out to enjoy the parade and street gala showing that no cloud could ‘rain of their parade.’
Lead by this year’s parade marshall Darren Lund, an activist and professor at the University of Calgary, the Pride parade started at noon at the corner of 8 Ave SW and 8 St SW, moved along 8 Ave into Stephen Avenue Walk — Calgary’s historical main street — and finished off at Olympic Plaza.
Like past parades, this year’s parade successfully brought members of the gay community together to celebrate their shared pride. First out of the gate was Calgary drag king Bruce Lee, waving a sign reading ‘Rice Dream’. Lee was followed by groups including the Alberta Rockies Gay Rodeo Association, roping in the spectators; The Calgary Eagle, with some scantly clad eye candy; and APOLLO Friends in Sport.
The street gala at Olympic Plaza extended the celebration throughout the afternoon and included an adventure zone for kids, a beer garden for the bigger kids, over 40 vendors, and a DJ who played to a crowd of people joyfully splashing and dancing in the plaza’s fountain.
Now in its 18th year, Pride has proven to be an ever-expanding endeavour. Pride Calgary representative Dallas Barnes notes that the festival has been both a challenge and a blessing.
“I have been astonished by the support of the community, businesses, and political organizations, and by the overwhelming efforts of our volunteers,” says Barnes.
Of course no Pride would be complete without some local politicians. Political representation at this year’s celebration came from Calgary Liberal MLAs Kent Hehr, Harry Chase and Dave Taylor. Brian Mason, leader of the Alberta NDP party also came out to show support. Chase and Taylor displayed their support for the community in the form of a fashion statement, sporting T-shirts with ‘Straight not Narrow’ written across them.
Yesterday’s Pride parade and street gala were among the many festivities that will continue to Jun 21. Two events you might want to mark in your calendar are the Homo Hop and Celebration 2008. Taking place on Jun 13, the Homo Hop is presented by Pride Calgary and the Miscellaneous Youth Network. The Homo Hop will be a night of dancing and entertainment for queer youth and their friends aged 14 to 25. On Jun 21, Pride Calgary will wrap things up with Celebration 2008.
“We will have performances from dance troupes, drag kings and queens, all in the beautiful Chinese Cultural Centre.” notes Barnes.
For more information on the Calgary Pride Festival 2008 visit www.pridecalgary.ca