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Winnipeg Pride festival gets underway

City is ‘fantastic place to be gay’: musician Jamie Lillie

The Rainbow Resource Centre’s Winnipeg Pride community barbecue is a big hit. Credit: Meg Crane

For almost a week, LGBT groups have staged more than a dozen events around Winnipeg to celebrate Pride, with gay bar Club 200 drawing a strong turnout for the kickoff show and dance party, Booty Call.

So far, this year’s festival has been much like 2013, but what Pride Winnipeg president Jonathan Niemczak’s really interested in seeing is how people respond to the two-day outdoor festival.

In previous years, Pride Winnipeg has brought performers to the stage at The Forks after the Sunday parade. This year, the festival will play out over an entire weekend, beginning Saturday, May 31. “We have a massive lineup,” Niemczak says. “There was six hours of entertainment last year with two headliners. This year, there’s 12 hours with four headliners.”

On Friday, May 30, musician Jamie Lillie will be performing at the 14th Annual Winnipeg Pride Coffee House for his fifth year in a row. He says that each time the experience is different. “We keep it fresh and interesting for every performance.” This time, there’ll be 10 musicians and spoken-word performers hitting the stage.

“The entire Pride Winnipeg festival is a new and fun experience every year because of the talent and creativity of its volunteers,” Lillie notes. “The Pride volunteers do an amazing job; can’t wait for this year’s In Flight dance party,” he adds, referring to the Official Pride Winnipeg Dance Party that closes the festival on Sunday, June 1.

For Lillie, Pride is a time when the community and its allies from diverse backgrounds can get together to party. “Winnipeg is a fantastic place to be gay, and I love it here,” he says.

Pride participants have taken in events like Lesbian Lube Wrestling 3.0, a conference on trans literature and a two-day slow-pitch tournament since May 23.

The fourth annual Pride Youth Dance and the Winnipeg Dyke March are among the many events Winnipeggers still have to look forward to on the weekend.

For a full list of events, visit pridewinnipeg.com.