When Annapolis Royal Pride Day gets underway at 11 a.m. July 27, the Pride Day Parade will take marchers a bit more effort than it did last year when they just had to walked down hill from the amphitheatre to the new rainbow crosswalk.
This year it’s all up hill on a one-way street all the way to the outdoor amphitheatre commonly referred to as the ‘O’. Organizer Bleu Rae said that’s the point. It’s not easy.
“That is significant for us,” said Rae. “We’re going up against the flow – because we’re still fighting the flow of this issue. It’s still something that goes against the grain of a lot of things.”
Mayor Bill MacDonald worked with Rae and her co-chair Zeynep Tonak to organize this year’s event.
“We’re looking forward to celebrating our family-friendly PRIDE Annapolis Royal 2019, and building on last year’s successful inaugural event,” MacDonald said. “Our efforts are to make sure everyone knows that Annapolis Royal is a welcoming and inclusive community for our residents and visitors, alike.”
But he said there remain challenges.
“Last year our rainbow crosswalk was vandalized and some anonymous phone callers shared their non-inclusive world views with me - making it feel a bit like we’re still swimming upstream,” MacDonald said. “To symbolize the challenges our community still faces, this year’s PRIDE procession will march up Saint George Street, from Market Square to the amphitheatre rather than down the street like last year.”
Rae said starting at Market Square and ending at the ‘O’ also works in another way.
“Last year there were a lot of people hanging around who wanted to talk. There’s a lot of people at Pride who want to talk,” she said. “Even at my first Los Angeles one I just wanted to hang out at the P-Flag booth and get mama hugs and talk to people about how hard it was for me.”
She said ending at the ‘O’ works to bring people together. She’s setting up her own booth.
“The kids are going to do snow cones and I’m going to have fun doing a P-Flag booth,” she said. “I contacted national P-Flag. They’re sending me brochures. It’s such a good thing for allies and parents and friends. So we’re going to have some brochures for people to take if they want to know how to be supportive.”
She said there will also be speeches and entertainment at the amphitheatre. But it’s not just that.
“We also want a place where people can just congregate and talk and share their experiences and feel that support that way,” she said. “Last year by the time the march was done it was kind of winding down and some people went back to the ‘O’ and some people didn’t. So we thought it was kind of a two-fer where we liked it being against the flow and it kind of puts us in the right placement to have more congregating, more discussing, more talks.”
"Everywhere needs Pride day. Everywhere needs a day where everyone can see the love that the LGBTQ+ community has to offer," Tonak said at last year’s event. "It's wonderful as a young person, who can see that her own small town that she has grown up in, is continuing to grow with her."
This year, Rae and Tonak talked about what Pride means to them personally and what’s important about it.
“For me, what’s important about Pride, is for children and closeted and allies – that is the most important part about Pride for me,” she said. “I don’t need a Pride anymore. I’m very comfortable in my sexuality. I mean I love a rainbow and I love a Pride march, but I don’t have a need. But kids, people that are closeted and people that don’t know how to be an ally, they need it. They need it to learn how to be a better ally. They need it to learn how to support the people they want to support. That’s why I want to make sure our focus is on the things that would be good for those people.”
She said that for those wanting to come out, the quaintness and support of Annapolis Royal’s Pride Day is perfect. It’s not so scary.
“It’s about saying we are a supportive community,” she said. “I think that’s just everything for me.”