On June 12, the Fernie Pride Society kicked off Pride Month celebrations with a Pride Picnic in the Park. Rainbow flags, bright blankets, and assorted lawn games scattered the Annex Park as over 30 people from throughout the Elk Valley collected to honour inclusivity and love. Attendees included mayor Ange Qualizza, board members from the Fernie Pride Society, a number of youth, and many new faces.
The Fernie Pride Society works to eliminate isolation within the queer community in the Elk Valley. The all inclusive, family friendly Pride in the Park event was organized by Rainbow Connections, formerly known as Beers and Queers. Rainbow Connections intends to host an exciting, outdoor event on the second Friday of every month. After a few months of isolation, Kevin Allen, president of Fernie Pride Society, stressed the importance of this event to bring their community back together while celebrating Pride Month.
“For me, it’s important that we take up space in our community as queer people, and that we have public events and show the community that we are here,” said Allen. “I know not everyone is happy with our existence, so it is important for me as an out and proud gay man to stake my claim and claim my space in my town.”
To account for pandemic regulations, all attendees adhered to distancing guidelines and brought their own picnic utensils. Food for the event was supplied by The Pub, who organized a take out menu for the event, offering participants everything from burgers, to fish and chips, and toasted LGBT sandwiches.
“This is the first pride event I’ve been to since coming out,” said Morle Stewart, a youth attendee at the picnic. “It’s important to me to have people that I can relate to, they understand what I’m going through, and offer me a safe space”.
Many other guests mirrored the same sentiments, mentioning their appreciation for a positive place to go, meet, and mingle with other LGBTQ+ youth and adults that have gone through similar experiences.
According to Allen, the Pride Society seeks to run another Pride Month event towards the end of the month, commemorating the Stonewall riots that occurred on June 28, 1969. Joining pride organizations from around the world, they also hope to tune into an online event entitled World Pride, while crossing their fingers that the annual Fernie Pride Festival in October will still run.
For more information on upcoming events, visit the Fernie Pride Society’s website or social channels.