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GayCalgary® Magazine

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Pride Calgary

Booming numbers a cause for celebration

Community by Krista Sylvester (From GayCalgary® Magazine, September 2015, page 13)
Calgary Pride 2014
Calgary Pride 2014
Image by: GayCalgary Magazine
Calgary Pride 2014
Calgary Pride 2014
Image by: GayCalgary Magazine
Calgary Pride 2014
Calgary Pride 2014
Image by: GayCalgary Magazine
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Oh my, how things have changed.

In just five years the Calgary Pride Parade has gone from 5,000 attendees to what is expected to be over 60,000 attendees this year, with more out of towners than ever. That’s a far cry from the less than 300 that showed up 25 years ago, many with disguises over their faces because of fear of consequences and repercussions for attending a pride rally. But that was then and this is now and, while society has a ways to go toward fully accepting homosexuality, it has come a long way; everywhere you turn you can see progress being made.

But that’s not all that has changed, according to Pride Calgary director of communications Tansy Wong, who says this year’s 25th anniversary is celebrating many other milestones, including the city’s first rainbow crosswalk. It’s not a novel concept, as many other Canadian cities have adopted similar initiatives, but in Calgary it’s an especially special feat. Wong shares with GayCalgary the excitement for this year’s festivities and invites all Calgarians out for what is going to be a fabulous anniversary.

GC: Can you talk about Pride’s beginnings and how it has grown over the years to its size now?

TW: Pride in Calgary started 25 years ago as a small rally, where some participants wore paper bags over their heads. In recent years, Pride has experienced a tremendous increase in support from the community, growing from about 5,000 attendees five years ago all the way up to now where we are expecting approximately 60,000 people to come out and celebrate with us.

GC: The parade has moved locations this year because of the size – can you tell us about that?

TW: We have over 120 parade entries this year, and Stephen Avenue was regretfully no longer a safe or practical option for the event. As Calgary already has the infrastructure in place on 9th Ave for the Stampede Parade, it only makes sense for us to move to 9th Ave, which will be accommodating our ever-growing parade for years to come.

GC: What else is new for this year?

TW: 2015 is the first year of a fantastic new partnership with ATB Financial, who has come on board in a big way as our presenting sponsor; they have been a terrific ally, and have been with us every step of the way to ensure that our 25th Anniversary is the biggest Pride this city has seen! At the festival, we’re bringing in international headliners Catey Shaw (NY) and DJ Citizen Jane (Miami) to perform at our stage, and extending the event an extra two hours [noon to 8pm]. We also had Calgary’s first Rainbow Crosswalk (#YYCPrideWalk!) installed in front of City Hall, and have partnered up with Calgary Transit and Pattison Outdoor to bring the city’s first ever Rainbow Pride Bus to the streets, and introduce a little more colour to Calgarians’ daily commute.

GC: Tell us more about the rainbow crosswalk: how has the feedback been; do you feel it has been generally accepted by Calgarians?

TW: It’s amazing to have a rainbow crosswalk in Calgary to show how diverse and inclusive the city has become. We have gotten a lot of positive feedback about the crosswalk, and many Calgarians love it. Some are even asking for it to become permanent fixture all year round. The smiles of people walking across it for the first time say it all!

GC: What are the biggest differences you have noticed over the last few years when it comes to Pride in Calgary?

TW: There has been a growth in diversity in Calgary, and a major shift in people’s attitudes. With that, more and more people are supporting Pride and becoming interested in getting involved, whether it's being in the parade, sponsorship, events or volunteering.

GC: A lot of out of town tourists are expected for this year's event; where are they coming from, and why?

TW: We get a lot of people from all over Alberta and Canada coming to Calgary to celebrate Pride.  We’re a destination event and provide one of the last big Pride celebrations of the summer. We want to share how progressive Calgary can be when it comes to diversity and LGBT rights, and this is a fantastic way of showcasing that!

GC: Anything you would like to add?

TW: Festival goers can go to our website for the full schedule of events during Calgary Pride Week, and to learn more about what it is we do. Whether you’re looking to dance the night away, see a couple film screenings, learn the history of our local LGBT community, or wave a flag at the parade, there’s really something for everyone! We welcome all Calgarians – from individuals to families – to come out and see what it’s all about, and enjoy this spectacular week of celebration!

The Pride Parade on 9th Ave. marches from 12pm to 2pm with Pride Fest running from 12pm until 8 pm at Shaw Millennium Park. On the night of the parade, some downtown locations will be lit in rainbow colours, including Stephen Avenue, River Walk, Langevin Bridge and the Calgary Tower.


(GC)

Calgary Pride 2014
Image by: GayCalgary Magazine
Calgary Pride 2014
Image by: GayCalgary Magazine
Calgary Pride 2014
Image by: GayCalgary Magazine
Calgary Pride 2014
Image by: GayCalgary Magazine

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