The third annual Pride Week will take place in Swift Current from July 8-14 to celebrate diversity and the benefits of an inclusive community.
Swift Current Pride Week is organized by Southwest Saskatchewan Pride. Board Chair Cam Ellis said the event will help members of the LGBTQ community to feel safe and welcome in the community.
“I think it's important, because there's a lot of people in our community who might be members of the LGBTQ community that haven't felt that they've had a voice or an opinion, and they felt really closeted in the past,” he noted. “There's been a lot of people as well who've received backlash from that, and that's why we want to make sure we have it to show that we're a great community here and we thrive off helping each other out and just being community oriented.”
Pride Week is not only a celebration for the LGBTQ community. The intention of the activities during the week is to bring people together, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
“We're here to celebrate everybody,” he said. “It's not just gay people, it's not just trans people. We want to celebrate our straight allies. We want everybody to be a part of this.”
He felt the previous two Pride Week events in Swift Current have helped the create more positive awareness in the community about the LGBTQ community. He has been able to get a sense of this change through his involvement with the Southwest Saskatchewan Pride board.
“Since joining it, I can tell that the social awareness in our community is growing,” he said. “Every time that we go for a meeting there's something new in our board meeting that's brought up that's a great success story.”
At the same time, he is realistic that some negative attitudes towards the LGBTQ community and Pride Week have not changed. Southwest Saskatchewan Pride has received positive feedback through social media, but there have also been negative comments.
“Obviously there's still a long way to go, judging by some of the comments we hear,” he said. “It's not like we're getting hate messages, nobody is saying anything that's super hateful. It's just kind of frustrating hearing some of the feedback that some people have. It's like they don't have an open mind necessarily. … It's a challenge, but it's come a long way and we've got a long way to go, but in the time that I've been on this board I can tell we've gone leaps and bounds.”
Various events during the upcoming Pride Week will help to create awareness and understanding, and it will build partnerships with allies in the community.
He is excited about the Swift Current 57’s game night on July 11, which is sponsored by Southwest Saskatchewan Pride. It will help to send a positive message that everyone is welcome when a major sports team in the community partners with Southwest Saskatchewan Pride.
“There's so many athletes that have come out as gay and I think that helps for the younger generation to see that when they're growing up it's OK to be gay,” he said. “An event like that is a great example of how our community is coming along.”
Other organizations are also partnering with Southwest Saskatchewan Pride to host events during Pride Week, and Ellis said it is really important to have allies in the community.
The City of Swift Current has officially proclaimed July 7-13 as Swift Current Pride Week. The week’s activities will be kicked off with the raising of the Pride flag on Market Square at 12:15 p.m. on July 8. Afterwards there will be a flag raising reception with snacks and beverages at the Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre.
The Chinook School Division GSAs will present a queer prom as Success Hall on July 8 from 7-11 p.m. According to Ellis it is important for Southwest Saskatchewan Pride to also have activities outside Swift Current during Pride Week.
“I think that's something that we really want to work on is getting into those smaller communities,” he said.
There will be a Pride trivia night at Lucky Charlie’s on July 9 from 8-10 p.m. People can come as a team or those who come on their own will be matched up with others to create a team.
Pride family story time for children aged 3-7 takes place at the Swift Current Branch Library on July 10, starting at 6:30 p.m. At the same time there will be a tie dye extravaganza for tweens and teens aged 10-17.
Glam Glow bowling takes place at Frontier Bowling Lanes on July 12 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The event is free and for all ages.
There will be a variety of Pride activities on July 13. The Pride village will be located on 1st Avenue NE as part of Market Square, and Southwest Saskatchewan Pride will be the featured organization at Market Square. The Pride march will take place at noon, and participants will gather at the Pride village at 11:50 a.m.
Another downtown activity on July 13 will be the Pride patio party at Buffalo Brew Pub from 3-6 p.m. That evening there will be a drag show and dance at the Lyric Theatre. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts 9 p.m. Tickets are available at the door, and are $10 for adults and $5 for youth.
Pride Week will conclude on July 14 with a cocktail brunch at Nightjar Dine Co. from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at a cost of $20 (drinks extra).
In 2017 the inaugural Pride Week in Swift Current featured the first permanent rainbow crosswalk in Saskatchewan, which was installed on the 200 block of Central Avenue North. That crosswalk was repainted for last year’s Pride Week. It faded again and will be repainted on July 7 with a longer lasting product.
Ellis said there was a lot of positive feedback on this rainbow crosswalk since it was created two years ago.
“We had the first permanent rainbow crosswalk in Saskatchewan and that created a lot of buzz for us here,” he mentioned. “There's a lot of people who will go and take pictures of it, and they'll post it on their social media. This is a really small community compared to other places that have these rainbow crosswalks, and I think it's great for our community to get acknowledged for that.”
For more information about events during Swift Current Pride Week, visit the Southwest Saskatchewan Pride website (www.southwestsaskpride.com) or Facebook page.