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Celebrating a virtual, physically distant Pride in Simcoe County amid COVID-19

This year, Fierté Simcoe Pride's events, which will occur between July 27 and Aug. 9, will be held online or in cars.
This year, Fierté Simcoe Pride's events, which will occur between July 27 and Aug. 9, will be held online or in cars. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Eduardo Lima

As Simcoe County continues into the third phase of Ontario’s reopening strategy, Pride will be celebrated a little bit differently this year, with most of Fierté Simcoe Pride’s events being held virtually or in cars.

But despite this year’s coronavirus-related changes, Fierté Simcoe Pride president Keegan Hobson said many of the differences he’s noticed regarding event engagement have been positive.

Read more: Trans youth wins stick-handling session with Canada NHL star through Pride trivia

“We have a considerably wider range of folks engaging with our events, especially younger youth,” Hobson said.

“We’ve always had a focus on family-friendly and youth-friendly events, but it’s been wonderful seeing folks as young as eight or nine coming out to our socials.”

Another positive change, Hobson noted, is engaging more people who couldn’t previously attend due to accessibility barriers.

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“I find the online format changed that,” he said.

A unique approach to showing Pride
A unique approach to showing Pride

Pride in Simcoe County has been going on since July 27 and will be running until Aug. 9. So far, there have been a number of Pride flag raisings at municipalities across the region, with the first online event — a mini-conference — happening Friday.

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Other events include a virtual Pride prom on Saturday, a drive-in movie night on Sunday, an online pyjamas and movie night on Aug. 4, a drive-by and virtual trans march on Aug. 6, and an online Pride awards gala on Aug. 8.

“We sort of hoped that maybe by the end of July came around that we would be able to do some of our events in person, and obviously that is not necessarily the case,” Hobson told Global News.

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“We’ve just been staying as updated as possible with the news and listening to the community to try and provide those spaces that people have been asking for.”

Read more: Ontario township mayor faces backlash over homophobic comments, decision not to raise Pride flag

Fierté Simcoe Pride also hosts a virtual, bi-monthly Pride social, which takes place year-round.

“We used to host it in person in several different communities across Simcoe County once a month, and then when COVID hit…we switched to virtual and went up to bimonthly just to combat some of the loneliness and isolation that people were experiencing,” Hobson said.

Fierté Simcoe Pride’s drive-in movie night will take place at the Sunset Barrie Drive-In Theatre.

The drive-by trans march will take place in Orillia and will be live-streamed.

Fierté Simcoe Pride is a grassroots volunteer group that formed in May 2012.

A conversation about Pride Month and anti-Black racism
A conversation about Pride Month and anti-Black racism