Pride festival comes to Squamish

Inaugural LGBTQ2S+ festival scheduled for Sept. 15

As Squamish's first Pride festival is counting down to launch, it's honouring its history in the community as well as looking forward.

While the volunteer-run nonprofit Pride Squamish is new, this won't be Squamish's first pride-type event. Safe ‘n' Sound kicked things off with a "Someone Like Me" conference in 2015 and what is known as the first Pride celebration in Squamish in 2018.

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"We're building on the work that was put together by Safe 'n' Sound," Bri Turner, one of the volunteers behind the new festival, told The Chief.

What is new is the family-friendly focus. Last year's event, held at Backcountry Brewing, was geared toward people 19 years old and up. This September, all ages will be welcome to the festival. Turner said inviting families helps focus on education and community-building.

"I think one of the things that makes Pride so essential in a community is the component of bringing the community together to celebrate LGBTQ2S+ individuals and contributions to the community. As a member of that community, it is so rewarding and so awe-inspiring to feel embraced and welcome and recognized by your community.

I also think that it's an excellent opportunity for education and recognizing the history of Pride and acknowledging the amazing strides that we've made as Canadians, as people, to bring people together," Turner said.

For families, including those with young kids, there can be even more of a benefit.

"I think that comes a long way for families to eventually discover that they have members of their family who fit into that endless acronym. I think for young queer people, seeing members of your community being thriving — happy adults who are welcomed and loved by their community is just amazing."

Turner said it's been inspiring to see all of the community support, including local sponsors and organization who have helped with fundraising events like drag bingo nights and yoga. It goes to show it doesn't take travelling to the city to find LGBTQ2S+ allies — support is right here at home, she said.

The celebrations kick off at noon in Junction Park on Sept. 15. Organizers are hoping to see 400 people show up. They also hope to have more events throughout the year.

Taking the mic will be drag queen MC Peach Cobblah to introduce Queer as Funk, Bluesberry Jam, DJ Smoothie and Cat Madden — with lip-sync battles between acts. Cobblah will also be leading the children's storytime.

An activity area will have yoga, face painting and education booths. The 19-plus crowd will still have its beer garden, and vendors will provide food and goods.

For more information and to get involved, head to pridesquamish.com.

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