REGINA –Twenty-five years ago, the City of Regina was a much different place for people part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
“We have certainly come a long way,” said Evanna Simpson, who was involved with planning Regina’s first pride festival in 1989. “People wouldn’t come because they said, ‘no we can’t be seen in public’.”
In June of 1989, City Council voted 6-4 in favour of recognizing pride weekend but some councillors tried to rescind that proclamation after they reported receiving death threats. In 1990, Regina’s police chief refused to issue a parade permit but the march went forward on the sidewalk.
“It’s just how much things have changed and the wonderful thing about that is that’s exactly what we were working for and in those days we thought it would never happen,” said Simpson.
However, pride parades in Regina were still accompanied by protests only 14 years ago, which is a struggle Jett Brewer said he understands.
“Myself, I was kicked out of my church and things like that for being a lesbian at the time and trying to find those supports was very difficult,” said Brewer with TransSask Support Services. “Now we’ve got all kinds of grassroots organizations and individuals trying to provide the supports that are needed.”
In one of the most symbolic gestures at this year’s festival, Michael Fougere became the first Regina mayor to raise the pride flag.
“It’s about time,” said Mayor Fougere. “I speak on behalf of City Council and we’re all very proud by the presence of other members of council here as well to say that we support the community.”
The pride flag will fly in front of City Hall for the reminder of the week and the parade will travel through downtown on Saturday.
Queen City Pride events are being held all the week.