Pride Festival

Andrea MacPherson, secretary with Pride PEI, says a new initiative for this year’s Pride Festival is something the organization hopes to grow as a way to include more Island 2SLGBTQ+ individuals in Pride that live in rural communities. This year’s Pride Festival will feature around 47 events across PEI. A number of these are approved events, where venues and community members have approached Pride PEI with wanting to host a Pride Festival event and with Pride PEI providing funding to help them run these events. Submitted photo

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This year’s PEI Pride Festival will feature around 47 events across the Island.

Like other festivals being organized during the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety of participants was top priority, with Pride PEI focusing on having a number of smaller events dispersed throughout the province.

There are three types of events this year for the Pride Festival, which runs from July 18-25. There are the signature events that are organized by Pride PEI itself, like the Pride Parade on July 24, and there are many returning partner events, like a barbecue with Charlottetown MP Sean Casey. But also, Pride PEI wanted to find a way to join forces with Island communities who might be interested in hosting Pride Festival events.

“We are doing approved events this year, where we let a lot of venues and community members come to us with ideas of events they would like to be able to run locally in their area, with us supporting them with a little bit of funding,” explained Andrea MacPherson, secretary with Pride PEI. “To help pay for talent and promotion of the event, but let them, the community and these kind of partners, to really plan the event themselves.”

Ms MacPherson added this year Pride PEI didn’t want everyone to feel like they had to travel to Charlottetown to attend Pride Festival events.

“We wanted to make sure that people could know and feel that they can be safe in their own communities at amazing Pride events,” she said.

This is a model Ms MacPherson said Pride PEI hopes they can continue with in the coming years as a way to include more Island 2SLGBTQ+ individuals in Pride because not everyone can travel to the larger centres in the province, like Charlottetown, to attend events.

“We are possibly the only Pride group that serves more than one city, we serve the entire province, so that gives us some very unique challenges,” said Ms MacPherson. “Charlottetown has a really urban mind set and that mind set is very different from Stratford and Cornwall, spread that out to Alberton and Souris and all the communities in between, the needs of those communities are so diversified... Having these approved events where we are asking the communities to tell us what you need in your community and we will help you get the funds to have an amazing Pride event in your community, that’s really a key to us making people feel safer in their own communities... We want them to feel safe and be able to be themselves in their own communities.”

The only Pride Festival event scheduled for West Prince will be taking place at Moth Lane Brewing in Ellerslie.

Owner Eric Wagner hosted a Drag Queen Trivia Night for the Pride Festival a couple years ago, which was very successful.

“The place was packed,” he said. “I suspect it will be packed again.”

Ms MacPherson said traditionally 2SLGBTQ+ individuals living in rural communities on PEI have felt disconnected from Pride Festival events.

“We acknowledge we’ve had difficulties getting events out there before, so it’s hard for any community members out there to really see what benefits they can get from Pride, so we’re really hoping to build on this idea of approved events this year and next year spread it out even further,” she said.

But Ms MacPherson is encouraged by the number of responses Pride PEI has gotten from groups to host approved events and she is looking forward to building on these type of events for future Pride Festivals.

And although Pride Flag ceremonies will only be taking place in Charlottetown, Summerside and Cornwall, a lot of communities across the Island will be raising the rainbow flag this week, including Alberton and O’Leary.

“To show the 2SLGBTQ+ community that we are supportive and we are allies and that we want to be a safer community and that’s been phenomenal,” said Ms MacPherson. “We’re going to have flags all across the Island, even if only a couple of them are able to have a specific ceremony around that, but just seeing the flag from Alberton all the way to Souris is going to be amazing.”

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