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‘Come together and celebrate’: Calgary Pride Week kicks off Saturday

Calgary Pride Week officially kicks off Saturday with performances, drag events and celebration of the city’s LGBT community.

The day gets going at 11 a.m. at Central Memorial Park in the city’s Beltline neighbourhood.

Brit Nickerson, manager of communications for Calgary Pride, says the location has special significance. It’s where the first Calgary Pride rally was held in 1990.

“So it’s a very important space for the queer community,” Nickerson said. 

“I’m very excited, not only as a queer person myself, but as the one who’s organizing quite a few of the events. It’s so wonderful to see everything kind of coming to fruition and to see everyone so excited to celebrate Pride this year.”

Pride festivities run from Aug. 26 to Sept. 5. The group’s flagship event — the Calgary Pride parade and festival — happens Sept. 4.

Cedar T at Jasper Pride in March 2021. The performer says ‘her slogan is she’s simply good medicine, and her look is overall little touches of Indigenous fabulous’ (Freebird Entertainment YEG)

Some have already started to celebrate. The Fairmont Palliser hosted an evening of Indigenous Drag Queen performances on Friday. It featured two-spirit performers from the Indigi-Hauz of Beaver Hills (Edmonton’s Cree name), which is a collective fusing traditional drag with Indigenous tradition.

“We’re building our own platform and sharing it with other Indigenous artists to be able to share who we are as a people through storytelling and gender expression,” said Boyd Whiskeyjack, who performs as Cedar T, in an interview on the Calgary Eyeopener.

“I think it’s a two-way street also for the LGBT community to combat racism within our own Indigenous nations … like transphobia and homophobia.”

The collective will also perform at Calgary Pride’s main stage on Sept. 4. 

“You’re basically going to experience an extravaganza of different flavours of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent from each performer,” Whiskeyjack said.

Indigi-Hauz at the Evolution Wonderlounge Extravaganza in Edmonton last November. From left to right, Desiré, Ladonna, Gemma, Etherea, Glue, Dana, Luna, Jacqueline, Cedar and Gurlquishaa. (Red Socks Photography)

‘Our hearts are full of love’

Pride organizers say they’re excited to have the LGBT community back together in-person as most events since 2019 had to be scaled back due to the pandemic.

“The past two years have been tough for everyone … this is the time we come together and celebrate,” said Sumit Munjal, manager of production and programming with Calgary Pride.

Munjal is in charge of the reading with royalty event that kicks off the day’s events Saturday, which is a family-friendly storytime program led by three drag performers. 

Attendees will also be able to visit booths, vendors and food trucks. The day ends with a movie in the park, which Munjal says does contain some mature themes. 

5:50Indigenous drag queen

We speak with one of the Indigenous drag queens who performs tonight to launch this year’s Pride Festival.

Of course, Munjal says he’s looking forward to next weekend’s parade, as well as the “Love is Love” one mile run that precedes it.

“No matter what you’re doing, you can engage and make it fun and gay it up,” he said.

“My message to the community is our intent is in the right place and our hearts are full of love.”

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