Pride Week 2022 set to dazzle all comers in Gananoque

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After two years of extreme caution, 1,000 Islands Pride Inc. is delighted to invite the world to Pride Week 2022 running in Gananoque from July 8 – 16.

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“1,000 Islands Pride is presenting a very progressive and far more inclusive Pride than they have ever had before,” said Sam Crosby, interim chair for the organization. “What was once a two-to-three-day festival is now an 8-day extravaganza.”

As with any event trying to pull itself together in the almost-post-pandemic age, Pride is running into snags here and there, but it promises to be as full of colour, joy, life and sound as it can be.

“Events director and fair co-ordinator, Cara Dixon, has been working very hard to bump-up the whimsy and fun, but also to provide an educational palette of offerings for people of all ages,” said Crosby. “The focus, of course, is on Equity and Inclusion. It is about providing 2SLGBTQIA+ people with lots of safe spaces, where they can be celebrated by their friends and family.”

The entire show starts on Friday, July 8, with the Big Gay Prom at the Royal Canadian Legion. (The) cost of admission is $25 per person, with tickets available in advance through Event Bright. It is being promoted as “No limits, no rules, no curfew … just a BIG GAY PARTY!!”, and everyone – gay or ally – over the age of 19 is welcome.

“The (Gananoque) Legion has been amazing,” said Crosby. “We have tried to spread around the evening events so that we are including as many of our ally businesses as we can, and we are so grateful to have places like the Gananoque Arts Network (GAN) space to hold our daytime specials. Though most events are ‘just show up,’ there are a few with tickets being sold on Eventbrite.”

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Ally businesses have made it possible to hold all kinds of events in the downtown core and many of them are family-friendly, from the roller derby between teams from Kingston and Ottawa ($10 per person to attend) to the Pride parade. There are numerous lunch-and-learn programs designed to help learn more about topics such as polyamory, two-spirit, and safety in relationships as well as just plain fun events like the youth beginner drag classes or more adult entertainment like story time with Tanya King and Ben Dover or the Kings, Queens and In-Betweens Pageant ($25 admission).

“Youth beginner drag is new this year,” Crosby said. “It will allow young people to get a ‘view’ into what it takes to become a drag performer. How does one develop their ‘persona’? What styles work well for them, both musically and in terms of fashion? The Open Mic will allow some interaction for youth, as well. Also new – slam, original music, comedy, magic poetry – you name it.”

With an event as special as Pride, the organization knows they would never be able to get anywhere without the local community stepping in to help make it all happen.

“We are so proud to have the support of our ally businesses,” said Crosby. “People like the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 92, GAN, O’Connor Gallery, Laverne’s, Stonewater Pub, Gananoque Brewing Co., and Maverick’s make all the difference in helping people feel comfortable, welcome, and happy. Thank you all and we’ll see you there.”

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