North Bay Pride puts people over profit
Well, well Pigeon! How are you? It’s been a while since I have written anything or posted anything, which I apologize for. Like many, the last several months have been tough on our mental health and it has taken some time for me to get back on my feet, but here we are Pigeon! Bare with me, this might be a little long in order to catch up.
As many know, smaller Pride events across Canada have been growing rapidly and outpacing larger ones. It is a sight to see, as these events spread the message of equality, inclusion and diversity for all.
I must talk to you about North Bay Pride, which has done many things with less funding than any larger Pride, but have accomplished things that many people have not even thought of yet. They are not afraid to be political, they are not afraid to speak up especially when it comes to inequality, and they give up their social media for marginalized groups like residential school survivors. All while many Pride organizations stay silent, especially some of the biggest organizations in Canada. North Bay Pride even had people attend demonstrations to join the Indigenous Communities when protesting about residential schools. They travelled four hours by car to attend the rally in Toronto. While many other Pride organizations fear reprisals, North Bay Pride just says “fuck it”, people are more important than funding.
Not only did North Bay Pride stand up and work for change in their local community, but they also called on our federal party leaders, Justin Trudeau, Jagmeet Singh, Erin O’Toole, Annimae Paul, Yves-Francois Blanchet to have a debate that is community led instead of big media led, which typically provides national stage answers that usually do not apply to you or me. We have learned that things, especially politics, must change as COVID has taught us, but it appears that our federal leaders have missed the memo Pigeon.
They acknowledge the request to the debate, but they avoid us like our last Grindr hook up. Sure, they sent representatives to a debate led by Canada Pride. They make no sense when you should be hearing from federal leaders when you want to be Prime Minister right Pigeon? It’s estimated that 20% of Canadians identify as part of the 2SLGBTTIQQA+ community. I personally think its higher. Our community can influence any election if they wanted to, but again where were Prides in the election?
When the leaders ghosted North Bay Pride, they went to local candidates and held a local debate that was moderated by me, Geri Atrick. When the event was announced, we cannot tell you how much hate mail there was through social media, but that did not stop them. The debate by Pride was described as, engaging, entertaining, informative and by far the best debate some folks had ever witnessed. Not only was the general public impressed, but the candidates were also excited that they attended. The response to this debate only proves that we know the right questions to ask, when you listen to community members. I must wonder Pigeon, if the leaders are regretting this now, seeing the result in North Bay?
Check out how a Pride organization can be political without repercussions right here and make a difference for our communities.
Let’s get to the main event though Pigeon. It was called “WE ARE PRIDE” Concert. It featured trans comedian Alice Rose who started Comic Sans Comedy Production to help our community get better representation in comedy. Alice hosted this amazing night that featured up and coming artist Dani Doucette , the rock legend Bif Naked, and the iconic singer/songwriter Serena Ryder. This night spoke volumes, as not only did they have these community activists perform, they included Indigenous teachings from Maurice Switzer and Thaila Sarazin.
They did manage to have a limited audience of 250 people, which of course, sold out. Every performance ended with a standing ovation. The music was amazing, Dani Doucette had the audience standing within minutes of opening, Bif Naked looked like she did when she played at the Vancouver Molson Indy in 1998 with a huge smile singing like there was no tomorrow, then Serena Ryder took the stage and brought the house down with new and older songs. Alice kept us entertained, learning more and more about her and her life’s journey which made the audience smile.
You would think that North Bay Pride was done with just that, but no, they wanted more community representation. They opened the night with a drum circle, singers, and a dancer. Not done yet, spoken word by Kahsenniyo Tahnee Williams from the 1492 land Defenders and Six First Nations. Kahsenniyo speaks with power and passion with words that will pull your heart strings.The night ended with Dani, Bif and Serena singing together.
Check out this full concert streamed for free here.
Yes, I know Pigeon, free? Yes, they did not charge anything to watch this line up, can you believe it? They made it so anyone can watch no matter your income, and that my friends, is what Pride is all about. Taking down barriers, putting community first, not afraid to speak up and tackle our political leaders, and just doing what is right instead of worrying about personal gains, ensuring representation by asking people and treating them with respect and dignity.
It has become clear, that many large Pride events can learn from one like North Bay. A big shout out to Calgary Pride though, because they are not afraid to stand up tall and fight for everyone, and even answer the call to support other Prides. Maybe one day, all Prides will be about all people and not just about their bottom line anymore, because people are not a profit or loss. They are people, and people are more then any Pride could value.
It would be nice to see all Pride organizations supporting each other and standing together in solidarity. Maybe I just live in a fantasy world right Pigeon? But wouldn’t it be wonderful?
About the Author
Geri Atrick is co-host of Not So Str8 Talk, a show that focuses on marginalized & 2SLGBTQ+. Geri also organizes national events around music and the arts, is deeply passionate and active in politics, and is an advocate on many social justice issues. Giver her a little wine and you will never know what she will say. Check out the show at www.str8talk.ca