Family fun, Pride and Drag Queens!
Are you a fan of Pride? In any city? I was in Calgary this past weekend celebrating Pride, visiting friends and taking in the festivities. It's a week full of events, theatre, dances and art. Thursday the 31st i showcased my new work that i made specifically for this event. It was spectacular!!
I painted mini portraits on watercolour paper ranging from 4” x 6” - 10” x 15”. There were icons like Prince, Cher and K.D. Lang but also individuals who sent in their selfie a couple weeks prior to the event and i added their portrait to the wall of fame. So much fun!!
Pride has become this amazing family event.
All sorts show up to watch the parade and take in the festival with the biggest addition to this being kids. There were tons of families and little ones waving and dancing and having a ball. This was my favorite part of pride this year. Calgary has a very bad reputation of being a conservative redneck old school place….rightly so…..but it's not anymore. That side has been dying off since Mayor Nenshi came on board back in 2010.
Back in the day when i moved to calgary in 2004 the pride parade was one lane marching down 17th ave, traffic on the ones side ( for real! This would not happen today ) and maybe a few thousand people showed up. In just over 10 years it has grown to 60 thousand people and the whole event is now 10 days long. Nenshi was the first mayor to march in the Pride Parade ( was the grand marshal ) and delivered a beautiful speech. I had no clue what i was diving into when i moved to calgary but the timing couldn't have been better. I witnessed all of this growth and change and am very proud to have been a part of such a vibrant community. My ties to calgary are strong and I now call it my second home.
Tackle Football, Cool Runnings and a Big Ass Megaphone!
If you didn't get a chance to listen to my last Podcast here it is. In keeping with Pride this interview is with Linda Craig. She is so fun and vibrant and was a pillar for pride from the late 80’s to the late 90’s. We talk about how pride has evolved, the coming out process and woman in sports. A Pet projects of hers that help women and girls participate and learn about all kinds of sports.
The morning of the parade was about 6 degrees, for real, and i was of course freezing…...so i decided to dip into a waiting area in a parking garage. It's not as bleak as it sounds...it overlooked the street with big windows directly onto the people in the parade. So it was kinda perfect. There were a few others doing the same thing and so we all had our own little party. One young girl, about 12, was extremely excited. She had on a tutu and crazy colourful leotards and was dancing about waiting for the drag queens or anyone else in over the top outfits. Her parents were there with her and very excited for the whole things as well. WOW. This had to be a highlight for me. In my lifetime i have seen such extremes in the best of ways that it brings tears to my eyes.
I came out just after high school, so 1986. The 80’s and early 90’s has a great reputation for change, pushing the envelope and freedom. And it was….but there's also the other side that help make that happen, which was also hard and stressful. I remember one night in Ottawa coming out of a gay bar, which happened to be next to the local cowboy redneck bar……strange but true. There were a group of guys waiting for us. So we went back in and got a crowd of people. Bears, big guys and butch dykes all in the front surrounding us little ones as we walked out of that bar right past these fine young men. Nothing happened and we ( this included the bar owners ) made it a rule that night that we walk out in numbers only. But sadly this was not an isolated experience. I have been lucky enough to have not experienced any gay bashing. Discrimination for sure, that was a given…..and topics of conversation on how to be safe were always at the forefront around friends and acquaintances.
This year marks the 30th anniversary for me since coming out. As i write this i’m realizing all the changes i've seen in just my lifetime. Emotions are overwhelming at the comprehension of how far we have come. From a city with no parade in 1986 to this year being the biggest parade ever at 60,000. A full spectrum family event celebrating diversity and love to everyone. I'm so proud and grateful to have been a part of the changes in calgary and to have influenced and been influenced by so many amazing people.
Love and Pride to you all, lisa