The Comox Valley’s annual Pride Weekend is nearly here and organizers say this year will be bigger and better than ever.
Events will take place throughout the Valley from Aug. 25–27, starting with the DejaVu Trois warm-up party at Avalanche Bar and Grill on Friday night. The event will feature some of the top drag queen performers from Vancouver, who will dance to the music of pole dancing DJ Lady K.
“It should be a big kick-off for the weekend,” said Jeff Stickler of Queer Culture, who is organizing events for this year alongside Parnell Productions owner Kathleen Pitt.
Following Friday night’s festivities, Pride Weekend will continue on Aug. 26 with a walk, run and roll from the Bayside Cafe to Simms Park at noon.
A weekend highlight will likely be the Drag Race at Simms Park following the walk. The event will include a “mirrorless make up challenge” from participants, who afterwards will race each other to dress in drag, a wig and high-heels before they’re allowed to cross the finish line.
“This is an event we had to come up with because there’s no more money for an event at this park,” said Pitt. “Before crossing the finish line, you have to stop, take a selfie, upload it to Comox Valley Drag Race 2017, and cross the finish line wearing full drag.”
On Saturday night starting at 8:00 p.m., the Comox Valley Pride Committee will put on its annual Pride Dance at the Native Sons Hall. The dance is open to all ages and tickets cost $20.
For the more formal crowd, Sunday offers a White Party Brunch at 40 Knots Winery from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Immediately afterwards, the weekend will conclude with the Cruisey T-Dance at Prime Chophouse and Wine Bar, featuring music from DJ Skylar Love. Tickets for the T-Dance are $10.
While Pride Weekend is an annual event in the Comox Valley, Stickler and Pitt want this year to be bigger than past years. Stickler said the weekend provides an opportunity to showcase LGBTQ culture to the wider community.
“For many years, we’ve dealt with persecution, but now, things have changed drastically,” he said. “I like to call it the ‘post Will and Grace era.’ There’s acceptance now. There’s still a little resistance, but it’s nowhere near as prevalent as it used to be. What we’re doing now is celebrating our history and our place in the community.”
Pitt emphasized that promoting the LGBTQ culture is at the heart of Pride Weekend.
“We can [promote] the culture of being gay, instead of just throwing parties or commercializing it,” she said. “In the last 48 years since the Stonewall uprising happened, (the gay uprising in New York) we’ve had the opportunity to recognize and celebrate a culture. The LGBTQ community has music, a club scene, our own meal — it’s called brunch and everybody loves it — we have our way of dressing and language.”
Tickets for the events can be bought at the Bayside Cafe or on Eventbrite.ca
In conjunction with Pride Weekend, rainbow flags were raised this week at four locations in the Comox Valley. Flags were raised at noon at Courtenay City Hall on Aug. 21, Comox Town Hall on Aug. 22, Cumberland Village Hall on Aug. 23 and the North Island College Courtenay campus on Aug. 24.
This year’s Pride Weekend is being sponsored by the Fountainhead Pub and Cloutier Matthews Chartered Professional Accountants.