Red, white and rainbow

By Rebecca Pfliger

The Gay Pride Parade and Festival was an enjoyable, energetic party for the whole family, despite rainy weather and a violent start.

The 16th annual Pride Parade began with a parade participant scuffling with a protester. Two men held up signs that read “No Pride in Sodomy” which caused pride parader Tyson McCann Cormack to react. McCann spat at and knocked over one protester.

Calgary Police Chief Jack Beaton was at the parade to encourage a more diverse police force, and said Cormack was not entirely to blame as he was provoked.

Conservative attitudes such as those displayed by the anti-pride protesters are a problem plaguing the Calgary gay community, according to Kevin Alderson, assistant psychology professor at the University of Calgary.

“Calgary itself is a very conservative city, and the oil business is conservative,” explained Alderson. “Klein has been absolutely unsupportive of the gay and lesbian community since he came into power.”

Some politicians are looking to change this pervasive attitude. Three MLAs from the Alberta Liberal Party gave speeches at the festival held in Olympic Plaza wearing shirts that read “Straight not Narrow.”

“We’re here to show support for you and solidarity with you,” said Calgary Varsity MLA Harry Chase.

Calgary Currie MLA Dave Taylor spoke of the current political environment.

“Alberta has been fighting a battle against misunderstanding,” he said. Taylor also pledged to keep striving toward a more positive, understanding future.

Calgary Mountain View MLA David Swann admitted it was his first Pride Parade, and his first coming out. He thanked the community for supporting him.

Marching in the parade along with the police chief and MLAs were churches, highschool student groups, CJSW, parent support groups and businesses including Ikea and CityTV. There was also the typical fare of rainbow flags, dogs dyed in rainbow patterns and drag queens.

Pride Calgary also succeeded in making this year’s festival more family oriented. Many families brought their children down to celebrate. There was a family fun zone set up with games suitable for young children.

Despite the serious speeches, the attendees, which numbered over a thousand, managed to take advantage of the fleeting sunshine by dancing, drinking and visiting the various booths set up in Olympic Plaza.

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