On June 15, Kingston Pride celebrates its 30th year. But it has been a long road to acceptance in the Limestone City.
Today, Kingston recognizes Pride Month every June; the rainbow crosswalk in front of the historic city hall is an example of that.
But in 1984, when the Queen’s Homophile Association (OHA) first asked the city to proclaim a gay and lesbian day, the matter wasn’t even discussed. Council at the time voted against it.
The OHA had to change strategies. It changed its name to Kingston Pride in 1989.
“They changed tactics at that point and decided instead of going to city hall to get a pride festival, they would organize it themselves,” says Miss Tyffanie Morgan, a longtime Kingston drag queen who is on the board at Kingston Pride. “That is when some of the unofficial walks-parades down Princess Street began.”
Those walks in the late ’80s, referred to as “strolls,” were attended by only a handful of people. That number grew to hundreds when, in 1992, Mayor Helen Cooper proclaimed a Pride Day.
Morgan came out to the world in early 2000, joining an already established drag queen community.
“A very strong and proud drag community, who supported a lot of the events, especially a lot of the HIV-AIDS fundraising here,” says Morgan. “I am very proud of that history.”
Since the mid-90s, the City of Kingston has proclaimed June as Pride Month.
“When you think back to the ’80s, we were doing protests that we existed, because a lot of people didn’t think gays existed here in Kingston,” says Morgan.
“Now we are definitely recognized and we are gaining broader acceptance throughout the community.”
And with acceptance, Pride celebrations in Kingston now attract thousands from the region to the Pride Community Fair at Confederation Park every Pride Day.
The Kingston Pride parade begins at 11 a.m. on June 15 in the Alfred and Princess streets area. It follows Princess Street down to Ontario Street and ends in front of city hall.