By B. Simm
CALGARY — Pride Calgary hosts a week long celebration that runs from August 22nd to September 1st. There’s a number events — comedy shows, brunches, beer gardens, dance parties, after parties, drag shows — happening around the city at gay and straight venues, but the main event is the Pride parade and festival that takes place on Sunday, August 31st. Pride Calgary’s president Stephen Wright provides an overview.
BeatRoute: Since the parade’s inception in 1990, how has it changed?
Stephen Wright: Well obviously it’s grown quite a bit. The first march was in 1990 and there were about 200 people involved and it stayed fairly small. Even up to six or seven years ago it was very grassroots. The parade came down 17th Ave., ended at Connaught School. We then moved up to Olympic Plaza and went along 8th Ave. Recently, three or four years ago, we switched the parade route to go to Shaw Millennium Park to accommodate the growth. In 2007 about 5,000 people were involved and this year we expect somewhere between 40 to 45,000.
BR: And how has the community changed with it?
SW: As far as the community is concerned, there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of sponsors supporting us. The parade is good for their PR, it also represents a lot of the diversity of the those who work for these companies. It’s incredible how it’s grown like that. People want to be involved. It’s not just the gay people that are marching anymore. It’s about diversity, equality and who you are. It’s changed from trying to secure rights, which we still are, yes. But we’re trying and becoming more inclusive. We want everyone to come out to the parade and have fun, enjoy yourself. That’s pretty much what it’s all about.
BR: What about the festival itself, what can one expect?
SW: Pure Pride is having their big dance party downtown at a venue (Flames Central) and is expecting about 1,600 people on the Saturday. Pure Pride brings in some well-known DJs, as well as a headliner who’s one of the drag queens featured on RuPaul’s Drag Race TV show. And then an appearance by a leading porn star. Pure Pride is more focused towards men, where Les Girl, which happens on Sunday, is for the women. At Shaw Millennium, where the festival is held, one of the big events is the beer garden that runs from noon until six. There’s about 50 vendors set up either selling product or organizations handing out or providing information that’s Pride-related. The police and armed forces will also have booths set up. Food trucks will be there all day and the Kids Zone with face painters, balloon artists and bouncy castles. And there’s a dance party with DJs and performances by drag queens and Fake Mustache, a local drag king troupe. Everyone’s intrigued by the drag queens.
For more details about the parade and festival visit Pride Calgary’s website: pridecalgary.caAB, Alberta, Calgary Pride Parade and Festival, drag queens, LGBT, Pride, Pride Calgary, Pride events, Pride Parade, Stephen Wright