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Sudbury gay pride week starts July 17

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 | Jul 13, 2006 - 12:46 PM |

BY HEIDI ULRICHSEN

Sudbury Pride 2006 organizer Sheila Bianconi is thrilled she finally has a way to include her straight mother in the local gay community.

She's planned a full week of activities for Pride Week, which takes place between July 17 and 23. The events are designed to be friendly to every member of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community, as well as their straight supporters.

Bianconi and her mother are most excited about the gay film festival taking place at Rainbow Cinemas on July 19 starting at 7 pm. The films are all appropriate to a PG 13 audience.

"My mom wouldn't go to the gay bar, but she would definitely go to Rainbow Cinemas," says Bianconi.

"For the film night, they've given us the 300 seat theatre, the biggest one at Rainbow Cinemas. I'm really excited to be showcasing some films from around the world...I'm hoping that straight supporters and people who just go to Cinefest would come out and check it out."

The feature film is All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise, a documentary about a cruise for gay and lesbian families organized by lesbian celebrity Rosie O'Donnell.

Bianconi wants to see new faces come out to Pride Week events this year and get everyone talking about gay culture. She decided not to have a gay pride march, because not every gay person is comfortable with "taking a political stance," and instead planned events that would appeal to everyone.

"There are many, many people who live in Sudbury who are GLBT, but they are not interested in participating in a march, nor do they seem to have an interest in going to a gay bar," he says.

"When they saw the lineup of different events going on, I was told I'd be attracting different people - straight supporters as well as family members."

Pride Week starts July 17 at 10 am at Tom Davies Square with the opening ceremonies and the raising of the rainbow flag. On July 18 at 7 pm, the Laughing Buddha at 194 Elgin St. will host an art exhibit and wine & cheese social.

The film festival takes place on July 19 at 7 pm at Rainbow Cinemas. On July 20 from 6 to 9 pm, local gay activist Gary Kinsman will speak about gay liberation at the main branch of the Greater Sudbury Public Library. A mini-documentary on the gay community in Ontario will also be shown.

On July 21, boat cruises with cowboy/cowgirl themes will leave Science North at 5 pm and 7:30 pm.

The Nickel Chef Cafe at 595 Kathleen St. will host the popular drag queen act B-GIRLZ that evening. Tickets cost $40. Dinner will be served starting at 7:30 pm and the show starts at 10 pm.

On July 22, there will be a swimsuit party at the main beach in Bell Park from noon to 4 pm. The Nickel Chef Cafe will host Pandora Topp in Rex Holmes and the Cheetahs that evening. Tickets are free with reservations. Phone 671-2899. Dinner will be served starting at 7:30 pm and the show starts at 9 pm.

On July 23, the Market Square in downtown Sudbury will host Market Square Flare, with vendors, information booths, food, children's entertainment and live acts.  At 9 pm, closing ceremonies will be held at the Townehouse Tavern. The folk band Outside the Lines will perform. A $5 cover applies.

The Sudbury Pride Guide pamphlet was put out in honour of Pride Week. It can be used all year long because it has numbers useful to the GLBT community inside.

The cover is decorated with a picture of a tree with some rainbow branches. The illustration shows every family has some gay members, says Bianconi.

"In my family alone, there's like five of us who are gay. When we were talking about it, it just rang true as to why I wanted that tree with the rainbow branches."

Bianconi received a mixed reaction while looking for sponsors for Pride Week.

"I thought this one place would be open to advertising. When I went in and talked to the owner and gave him the speech on the booklet and said how it would be used as a resource manual and not thrown away at the end of the festival, I was really shocked to not get their support," she says.

"They said they didn't want to be associated with it. Homophobia is alive and well in Sudbury. But then I went to other people and they were so happy to be involved and wanted to take out a half-page ad."

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