Pride Month is underway and organizers say dozens of events across Edmonton celebrating the LGBTQ2 community will make this year’s event the biggest in the city’s history.
At a press conference Friday, Pride Edmonton announced the lineup of events, which includes everything from markets to history lessons to live music.
One new addition to the annual celebration will be the Edmonton Drag Festival on June 17.
Festival organizer Conroy Smith said the festival will feature 11 performers from Canada’s Drag Race and more than 30 local drag performers.
“We’re trying to create a safe space … where we can celebrate drag and drag culture, especially in a time like this when drag has been attacked,” said Smith.
“We’re human beings, we just want love and to be respected and just be able to have a good time.”
Though rights for the LGBTQ2 community have come a long way, more still needs to be done, according to Ron Byers, promoter for Pride Edmonton.
“There’s still a lot of hate that’s out there,” said Byers. “Trans rights are not written into the law. They’re assumed into the law but they’re not written into the law.
“Pride is one of the ways we bring that ‘yay’ back into our lives.”
Byers said BIPOC people in the LGBTQ2 community also need special attention to ensure protection.
The full lineup of Pride events can be found on the Pride Edmonton website.
Edmonton students celebrated the kickoff to Pride with an event at D.S. MacKenzie School.
There were food trucks and games for all students to participate in.
Rorie van der Zyde, a Grade 9 student and Vance Vazan, a Grade 8 student, said they feel Pride is important to celebrate.
“It’s a celebration of being able to love who you love and be who you are; people see you for who you are,” Vazan said.
“If they’re allies, they’re queer, they’re questioning … it’s just so important because they know people will support them in every way,” van der Zyde said.
“Our school is very inclusive. That’s what I love about D.S. MacKenzie, they accept everybody for who they are,” van der Zyde said.
Katie Griffith, a junior high teacher, said they have noticed their students “taking up less space.”
“This kind of event, hosting QSAs (queer-straight alliances) and active allyship within schools allows students to really be their full selves and engage in the community and take up the space they deserve,” Griffith said.
“Kids really love it. I find that our students really want to lift each other up,” said Taylor Mattern, another teacher.
Later in the summer, more Pride festivities will be held in Churchill Square during Edmonton’s Pride Week.
From Aug. 18 to 26, the Edmonton Pride Festival will feature live music, a 2-Spirit Powwow and a ’90s dance party, among other events.
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