Despite there not being a formal parade in Nanaimo this year, Pride Month will still be celebrated with several long-awaited community events.
Nanaimo Pride Society president Ajay Booth said figuring out what could be done while still living in a “COVID world” was top of mind for the society.
“Unfortunately this year, because of COVID, and the state of bringing Pride back, we had to make the decision not to host the parade because we wanted to do quality over quantity,” they said. “With pandemic restrictions and a new board taking over – there’s been a lot of board turnover based on what’s been going on during the pandemic – and in trying to figure out what was feasible this year… We’ve been working really hard behind the scenes. And we decided we still needed a community celebration. We all banded together to do it.”
The NPS will, however, host a family-friendly Pride Festival on Sunday, June 12. Instead of a parade, a Pride Walk and Roll Event will take place, also June 12, as organized by community member James Chamberlain.
“Some community members decided they wanted to do a march to honour that process. And so they stepped up and took that on themselves. They’ll end the march at Maffeo Sutton and come in to the festival,” said Booth.
The society is also promoting but not necessarily sponsoring several other Pride community events to raise awareness.
On Wednesday, June 8 at 6:30 p.m., there will be a flag raising at Nanaimo City Hall, as organized by the city, with a Pride proclamation reading.
On Thursday, June 9 at 7 p.m., BGC Central Vancouver Island will hold a supervised Youth Prom at the German Hall on Caledonia Ave, free to teens 13-18 years old.
Saturday, June 11, will have two community events: WildPlay Pride at WildPlay Nanaimo starts at 11 a.m. with a musical performance and vendors; and Queer as Funk, a Vancouver funk band, will play the Beban Park social centre at 7 p.m. in a 19-plus show.
For the final day of Pride society-promoted celebrations, the Pride Walk and Roll on June 12 will start at noon, and attendees will meet at the Thrifty’s entrance of Port Place Mall at 11:30 a.m. Participants will walk to Maffeo Sutton Park together and are encouraged to “dress in all the Pride finery” and decorate bikes accordingly.
For the main event, the Pride Festival will be celebrated from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. at Maffeo Sutton Park.
Booth said the festival will include a main stage with multiple local performers and musicians, and will be hosted by Vancouver drag queen performer Conni Smudge. Food trucks will be on site, as will vendors and non-profit organizations, and there will be a kids’ area with activities.
“Should be a good celebration throughout the day,” Booth said.
Also promoted by the society, but not necessarily part of the Pride 2022 events, is the original play, Emerge, written collaboratively by LGBTQ youths based on their lived experiences. It will have three showings June 10-11 at the OV Arts Centre on Victoria Road.