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PTS adds colour and vibrancy to Ottawa’s queer community

Masquerade ball and rainbow bodies

Pole dancers at PTS Masquerade Gala Credit: Courtesy of PTS

Pink Triangle Services (PTS) has hit its stride. Its masquerade gala was a success, it is about to unveil a five-year strategic plan and at the Pride parade on Sunday, PTS will be cooking up a storm with its first pre-parade breakfast.

Claudia Van den Heuvel, executive director of PTS, has been working behind the scenes, creating a colourful and vibrant look for the organization. At the Pride parade, volunteers will be marching in full body paint.

“People are really the canvas in our community, and so body-painting them and making them the rainbow is, to me, the way we can put a new spin on rainbows,” says Van den Heuvel. “It’s something new, something edgy and definitely fun, and I think it will be an exciting splash for PTS at this year’s Pride parade.”

Revitalizing PTS has been one of Van den Heuvel’s objectives for the organization. She has been working with PTS staff and volunteers at promoting the organization in imaginative and colourful ways — work that has paid off.

On Aug 13, PTS held its annual gala — Masquerading Identities — at Tabaret Hall at the University of Ottawa. The gala was elegant and well attended by members of the queer community. People dressed in costumes and masquerades fit for an evening of intrigue and entertainment that featured impromptu performances, from acrobats to pole dancers to street performers.

“It really charged the atmosphere and created this intriguing environment with the dark lighting and the type of music that was there,” says Van den Heuvel.

The gala was a financial success, with nearly $10,000 raised through ticket sales, donations, sponsorships and auction items. Van den Heuvel estimated that there were more than 120 people at the gala but, although the number of attendees was up from previous years, it did not reach the numbers Van den Heuvel was hoping for.

“I do think it was a tremendous success, but the one thing we have to work on for next year is getting the numbers up,” says Van den Heuvel.

The ticket price for the gala was $75 in advance or at $80 at the door, a price that Van den Heuvel feels was out of range for a many people.

“A lot of people were saying that they don’t really want to spend that in one night — they know PTS is an important charity, but they feel like it is a big-ticket item,” says Van den Heuvel.

Van den Heuvel has already begun to look at different ways PTS can make the gala more affordable for next year. Her aim is to encourage more people to attend and make the annual gala a night to remember.

The next event for PTS will be its annual general meeting in October, where a five-year strategic plan will be unveiled.

PTS breakfast — pancakes, scrambled eggs, hash browns, juice and coffee — will be served from 10am – noon, Sun, Aug 29, at the parade staging area across from the Garden of the Provinces. $10. Donations to PTS.