By Rob South
Celebrating the strength and diversity of the gay and lesbian community, approximately 2,000 participated in the 11th annual Pride Parade on Saturday. Although gay and lesbian rights are often hotly contested in Alberta, organizers did not want the event to have any political overtones.
"It is literally just to go out and celebrate our community and not to politicize the parade at all," said organizer Nancy Anderson Dolan.
Initially, organizers were concerned that they would not get an adequate police presence for the parade.
"It was a little bit of a hiccup a month ago because of the World Petroleum Congress," said Calgary Pride Co-chair Linda Craig. "It really wasn’t a huge deal."
There were a record number of floats and participants in this year’s parade. Additionally, an unusually high number of spectators watched the parade.
"People were just thoroughly enjoying the parade going by; it was incredible," said Craig.
Many gay pride parades are taking place across North America in the coming weeks. The parades commemorate the July 1969 Stonewall riot in New York. During the riots, gay people fought as a group to stop a police crackdown on gay nightclubs.
"The parade being in the public eye is an indication to the larger community that we are here in the city, and we are proud to be here," said Craig.
The Pride Parade kicked off Pride Week, which runs until June 18. Other events include a movie festival at the Uptown Theatre on June 15-16, and a performance of Tickled Pink at the Martha Cohen Theatre. The week’s biggest event is the Pride Dance at the Max Bell Arena, which includes flag dancers and go-go dancers.
Anderson is pleased with the variety of events.
"It’s not all the same kind of thing," said Anderson. "It will not all attract the same kind of people, it’s about diversity."
For more information on Pride Week, call 777-9499, ext. 2850.