The Kingston Pride Executive Committee is comprised of earnest volunteers from the Kingston community who donate their time to raising the profile and visibility of the queer community in Kingston. Did you know that planning for all the various Kingston Pride events begins mere days after the last year’s events? The 2012 Pride Executive Committee currently has a voluntary force of eight although was helped along the way by many other passionate volunteers to get to this stage, along with dozens of other volunteers who help out during the events. Our intrepid Reelout blogger sat down with the planners for an inside scoop!
Tim, this is your second year on the Kingston Pride Committee. How is this year’s pride line-up different from previous years?
Tim: This year we have gotten together with the different community groups to get them involved in the pride celebrations to showcase these groups and highlight their efforts in the community. For example PFLAG will be hosting a breakfast, HARS is hosting a Pride Bash Dance and Reelout and The Screening Room are hosting queer and queer-themed movies over the week.
The rest of you are all new volunteers to the Pride Committee. What made you decide to volunteer for Pride?
Bruce: I was new to Kingston in the last year. I had a new job, starting over a new life as a single guy after a 17-year relationship. I found it important that I put back into the community. I think that everyone can make a difference. It’s also a great networking experience!
Matt: It’s that spirit of collaboration and community and wanting to participate in events that embrace diversity and encourage people to be proud of their differences. There were also elements to Pride that I felt needed to be addressed, such as the gender exclusionary “Miss Kingston Pride” which is now open to anyone irrespective of gender identity and the inclusion of Two-Spirited persons in the City of Kingston’s Pride Proclamation. The historical and cultural significance and contributions of the berdache indigenous people needs to be recognized. Here you have a truly astonishing history of people who were a “third gender” and were revered and admired by their tribal communities – and then we showed up bringing our homophobia with us and that put an end to the way of thinking. So many queer native teenagers have no knowledge of this history or the fact that they come from a lineage of extraordinary influence and empowerment. I’m so happy that the City of Kingston officially recognizes the contributions of Two-Spirited persons in our community and that people take the time to learn more about them. It’s so easy to be critical of events from your armchair and if you want to make a difference, you need to volunteer.
Tegan: As someone who has hosted Queer events in Kingston for over four years, I wanted to get involved with Pride to assist in furthering the development of the Kingston LGTBQI Community. I wanted to be a part of pride to represent myself as a Queer woman and to encourage diversity within the committee. I look forward to helping create positive change and moving forward with Pride, today and in the future.
Lori: I decided to volunteer for Pride, to help spread knowledge about events in the community. I would also like to help try and get Kingston’s LGBT environment to become a little closer and create more events for people to gather and meet new faces in which they have common ground.
Ray: I joined the Kingston Pride Committee to address the needs and experiences of trans and genderqueer identified people. I wanted to help encourage people of any gender, sexuality or identity to take part in Kingston Pride, in any way they can. Pride is about celebrating diversity, a time when anyone can walk down the street and say, “this is who I am, and I am proud”. I admit I wanted to join to help myself say that as well. I would encourage everyone to take part in that.
Glen: After having been distant from my own culture for several years, riding the fringes of society, I decided to make a bold statement for myself, and the gay community, by rejoining the land of the living, and taking my rightful place among my people.
Kevin: I have seen many social and cultural changes over the past 20 years. I have seen tolerance turn to acceptance turn to celebration. As a member of the LGBTQI community, I know of the amazing strides that the community has made over the years. This advancement is amazing and calls for celebration. However, I still hear of violence, bigotry and oppression that still exist in our society. With this in mind, I decided that I wanted to a part of the advancement toward an inclusive and just society. We can no longer pat ourselves on the back and say that we have made remarkable advances and realize that we still have a long way to go. I have often said that I would rather have people say that they know Kevin, who happens to be gay, rather than that they know a gay guy named Kevin. Through education for all people, we can all come to know that we are more alike than we are unalike. By being a member of the Kingston Pride Executive Committee, it is my hope that I can play a small role in the building of bridges, education and social awareness in the Kingston community.
What event(s) are you most excited about this year?
Tegan: I’m really excited about all the events, but I am especially excited about the parade this year, It’s going to be fabulous!
Bruce: I’ve never participated in Kingston Pride before so I’m looking forward to all of them!
Ray: I agree, all of them and I hope they continue to grow more and more each year.
Lori: I am excited about how well the events will go over with the community as a whole and to get an idea of what the LGBT community would like to see in the coming years, so that we can expand on the events– like drag shows for example.
Matt: I’ve missed the Out on The Queen Boat Cruise for the past couple of years and its always been one my favorite events. Plus, I love the double entendre of the name of the event- priceless! So I would say that I’m looking forward to that. And of course, it goes without saying that The Screening Room’s programming of the The Times of Harvey Milk, Female Trouble and Johnny Guitar!
Glen: The one event I’m looking forward to the most would have to be the Pride Parade. I want to march and let people know that I’m back and stronger than ever!
Tim: I’m excited about ALL the events this year in particular. l feel that the community has worked together to put on one of the best years l can think of in the 23 years of Kingston Pride.
Kevin: I have been involved in the organizing of Kingston Pride 2012 from our first meeting last January. I have seen the events journey from the initial idea, through the hours of planning, to the fruition of some amazing opportunities for community growth. It’s difficult to say which Kingston Pride event I am most excited about. Upon reflection, I guess that the events that I am most excited about are the many events that are not organized by the Kingston Pride Committee. PFLAG, HARS, Reelout, The Pride Art Show, The worship services are all members of the LGBTQI community that have chosen to join together and work to make the Kingston LGBTQI community a true community rather than a variety of disparate groups. I am excited to see our community come together and feel the strength and support that we can all share.
I’m sure our loyal handful of Reelout blog readers are sitting at their computer screens right now inspired by your group’s spirit of volunteerism, is it too late for them to get involved?
Tim: No in fact, we are still looking for volunteers to donate their time at various events so if you are interested, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can let you know what positions we have available.
Tegan: One of the great opportunities for volunteers is to sign up to be a parade marshal. With a parade this size, we want to ensure everyone who marches are safe and marshals are the unsung heroes with the sexy safety vests who protect the parade from traffic.
Matt: And Pam Havery is organizing the parade marshals this year which makes me geek out a little because besides the fact that she is a terrific organizer, she’s also one of a small group of women activists who were responsible for getting Mayor Cooper to proclaim Kingston Pride Day for the first time. So if you volunteer to work with Pam, you’re volunteering to work with a pioneer in LGBT activism. She’ll probably scold me for calling her a pioneer, Ma Ingalls she’s not. Her email is email@example.com if you want to volunteer to be a marshal.
For more information on Kingston Pride 2012, pick up a Pride Guide at various locations in the city including Novel Idea, Tara Foods, The Sleepless Goat Cafe, and Ben’s Pub. Also, check out the Jacqueline Jamieson Gallery at 342 Princess Street where you can purchase beautiful handcrafted Pride Jewellery made by Jacqueline herself. Visit the 2012 pride website by clicking here.