‘Loud music and smiling faces’: Queen City marks 30 years of Pride

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WATCH: Thousands take part in the Queen City Pride Parade, marking 30 years of pride in Regina – Jun 15, 2019

It could be Queen City Pride’s biggest parade to date with more than 3,000 people expected to have turned up for the celebration’s 30th anniversary on Saturday.

“I’ve watched [Queen City Pride go] from a small, tight-knit group of people hosting a community event to something that the entire city is looking forward to,” said Dan Shier, Queen City Pride’s co-chair.

READ MORE: Moose Jaw, Sask. celebrates annual Pride Parade

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The parade took a different route this year. With construction blocking most of the old path, Shier says the organization had to plan an alternative route, which gave them the chance to do a “parade through history.”

The parade passed by several buildings with historical significance to Regina’s Pride community, including Scarth Street Station, Smith Street House, Q Nightclub and UR Pride’s recently opened ‘SPACE.’

READ MORE: New Regina LGBTQ+ youth centre aims to help build community

“Having physical brick and mortar spaces in our city that represent our community really stands to show how our community has progressed,” Shier said.

This year’s theme is ‘Growing from Many Voices.’ It signifies the community’s growth since events like the Stonewall Riots and Regina’s first Pride parade.

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“Many different people have started that spark for the LGBTQ movement. As well, there are so many voices today pushing us in different directions and into the future,” Shier said.

READ MORE: How the Stonewall riots fuelled fight for LGBTQ rights

Remembering the past

Thirty years ago, Regina held its first-ever Pride parade, but it was very different from the vibrant, music-filled walk that happens today.

Mirtha Rivera and her partner, Jean Hillabold, covered their faces with bags during the Queen City’s first Pride parade.

“We were afraid to lose our jobs, our children and our house, or worse — that somebody would recognize us and kill us,” Rivera said.

Rivera says she eventually uncovered her face to make a statement.

“I don’t think that hiding my face will solve anything,” Rivera said. “I’m not a person who hides. I’m really up front, I’m really honest and, for me, it was about being honest of who I am.”

Rivera says around 50 people participated with one goal in mind: “We were fighting for our human right to be respected as a person.”

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READ MORE: ‘It feels pretty special’ -- Moose Jaw Pride paints historic LGBTQ2 mural

The couple held hands during the parade; it was the first time Rivera had been in public with a female partner.

Since then, Rivera and Hillabold have marched in nearly all of Regina’s Pride parades.

As LGBTQ2 rights progressed, so did the couple’s relationship. They got married in 2010 and, on Saturday, the couple led the parade as grand marshals.

“I just want to burst into celebration and I’m so happy,” Rivera said before the parade.

While Pride parades have turned into a celebration, Shier says it’s important to remember where they came from.

“We cannot forget that Pride originated from protest and riot and that history stays with us despite the loud music and smiling faces,” Shier said. “Behind it all there is still this important message of fighting for human rights.”

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