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Pride all summer long

Pride all summer long

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Southern Ontario keeps celebrating
With all the fanfare and festivities at Toronto Pride it would be easy for attendees to think Pride season ended on Jun 28. But for many other communities in the province the preparations, picnics and parades are just beginning. Here is a list of some other Ontario events happening this month.


Peel Region

Northwest of Toronto the region of Peel will celebrate Pride weekend beginning with a dance at Norma Jeane’s (5977 Dixie Rd) in Mississauga on Sat, Jul 11; $5 cover. Then on Jul 12 a picnic will take place at the Heart Lake Conservation Area (follow the rainbow signs to campsite Lakemount two) from noon till 4pm.

Sue Slean, cochair of the Pride Committee of Peel, says she’s hoping for a good turnout after last year’s picnic turnout was dampened by poor weather.

“If the weather cooperates we should be back up to our regular 300 to 500,” says Slean. “Last year because of the weather we have about 100… but the folks who did come had a great time. We had water balloon fights. It was great ’cause everyone was wet anyway.”

For more information go to Prideeventspeel.com. See also Mississauga/Peel below.


Sudbury

With a reputation as the “capital of Rainbow Country,” Sudbury boasts one of the most visible queer communities in Northern Ontario.

“In the east is North Bay and west is Sault Ste Marie and north up into the Timmins area [and] all the roads gather to Sudbury,” says Sudbury Pride committee chair Tom Reid, who notes that Sudbury’s gay bar Zig’s is the only one in the area.

With its 2009 theme “Your rights, our rights, human rights,” this year’s Sudbury Pride will include a forum on social justice and queer organizing on Wed, Jul 15 at Rainbow Cinemas (40 Elm St). The forum, which follows an 8pm screening of Milk ($10), will feature Toronto queer-parenting educator Rachel Epstein, activist sociologist Gary Kinsman and addiction counsellor Ziggy and focus on issues for northern Ontario queers.

“Just because we can get married in Ontario doesn’t mean it ends there,” says Reid, pointing to the ongoing issue of homophobia in the workplace.

Other events include Pride Idol at Zig’s (54 Elgin St) on Jun 15 at 11pm and a BBQ hosted by the Sudbury Northern Ontario Bears at Delki Dozzi Park on Jul 18 ($20).

The festivities culminate on Jul 19 with Sudbury’s annual Pride March, which starts from Memorial Park at 12:30pm, followed by a BBQ, picnic and music.

For more information check out Sudburypride.com or search “Sudbury Pride” on Facebook.com.


London

With this year’s theme of “Family reunion,” the 27th annual London Pride festival is aiming to include the youngsters in the festivities.

“You have to include the younger generation because if they are excluded, who’s going to take over?” says Pride London president Eugene R Dustin. “How can they feel accepted themselves if they’re being shunned or pushed away?”

According to Dustin this year’s events will also be “inclusive, rather than exclusive” in an effort to attract more straight allies. Dustin, who estimates that straight participants accounted for about a third of the overall attendance last year, says he expects attendance to grow by 3,500 to 20,000 this year.

Dustin says he isn’t concerned about losing the queer flavour of the event.

“Everyone has to accept each other as equals,” he says. “If you start excluding the straight community then why should they include the gay community? I think it’s a great thing they’re getting involved.”

In keeping with the family-friendly theme there will be a KidZone offering free face painting, balloon animals, storytelling and other activities on Sat, Jul 25 from 3pm to 6pm and Jul 26 from 2pm to 4pm at Rum Runners Music Hall parking lot (185 Queens Ave).

Other events include a screening of the film Stubblejumper — the biopic on gay activist Doug Wilson that recently played Toronto’s Inside Out fest — at 2pm on Jul 19 at the Grand Theatre (471 Richmond St).

On Jul 26 the annual London Pride Parade will take place at 1pm starting from the Queens Ave parking lot (at Adelaide and Elizabeth St) followed by an outdoor party.

For more info go to Pridelondon.ca.


Mississauga/Peel

After its inaugural Pride march last year QXposure, a partnership between several Peel Region community services, is back for more with Queer It Up on Sat, Jul 18.

“Last year it was fantastic,” says QXposure’s Nicole Ghanie-Opondo. “It was our first time so we were nervous but we had about 100 people come out and we marched for about 40 minutes west on [the sidewalk along] Dundas in Mississauga.

“We had lots of honking and support from people walking by so we felt really welcomed, that it was important reclamation of space in a region where there aren’t a lot of queer-positive spaces.”

This year’s event begins at 2pm with a community fair at the East Mississauga Community Health Centre (EMCHC; 2555 Dixie Rd, unit seven); the march departs around 2:30pm and will loop back to the centre. The fair will continue until 6pm and feature youth performances as well as kids’ activities like henna and face painting.

QXposure is a collaboration between the Association of Youth Services of Peel, the Peel HIV Network and the EMCHC, which promotes health and wellness for the queer and trans communities of Peel Region.

For more info check out Qxposure.blogspot.com.
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