More than 30 events planned for weeklong festival
Fast forward to 2014, and there's now a weeklong festival celebrating the city's LGBT community. This year's Sudbury Pride, which takes place July 12-20, features about 30 events.
“The fact that we can do 30 events, that we have the backing, we have the population, we have the awareness in the city that lets this happen, it's amazing,” said festival chairperson Theresa Burden.
“It means we're making strides in the right direction.”
She said it's still important to raise awareness of LGBT issues in the city, as homophobia and especially transphobia are prevalent in Sudbury compared to the situation in Southern Ontario cities.
“There's still people every day here that are being oppressed,” Burden said.
Transgendered people's rights — including gender identity and expression — were recently enshrined in the Ontario Human Rights Code.
“They'll be actually legitimately protected on an Ontario level,” Burden said. “It's something they're really, really excited about.”
For the first time this year, Sudbury Pride will hold an awards gala to celebrate businesses, organizations and community leaders that have been trailblazers in the city's LGBT community.
The event takes place starting at 7 p.m. July 14 at the Howard Johnson Hotel. The keynote speaker is Susan Gapka of the World Pride board of directors.
“There are a lot of people who do a whole lot of work for the community, and they rarely get acknowledged for it,” Burden said.
The second annual Sudbury Pride community conference — a day of information about LGBT issues — takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 17 at the Howard Johnson Hotel.
Also on July 17, transgender activist, internationally renowned author and spoken word artist Ivan Coyote will perform starting at 7 p.m. at the Howard Johnson Hotel.
“If you want to learn about transgender people, and about gender itself, and the political impacts, this is a must-see,” Burden said. “That's another one I can't believe we managed to pull in.”
Sudbury Pride will hold a family celebration in Memorial Park from 11-6 p.m. July 19, with events including performers, vendors, artisans, games and food.
Everyone is then invited to take part in the annual pride parade through the downtown core, starting at 6 p.m. July 19.
The festival also includes many smaller events throughout the week — everything from a roller derby match to a movie night to a worship service.
Burden emphasizes Sudbury Pride isn't just for the LGBT community.
“Everyone sees pride, and the straight-identified allies are saying 'Oh, I won't be welcome,'” she said.
“That's definitely not the case. Every single one of our events, allies are encouraged to attend. We need support. If we didn't have allies, we wouldn't have enough numbers to make political changes.”
For a full list of Sudbury Pride events, visit www.sudburypride.com.