Flin Flon Pride’s next edition is weeks away and for its first foray into Pride Month, new events and initiatives are being planned.
For 2023, the event has been moved from its typical late summer start date to June 5-11, being held during Pride Month for the first time. The plans are currently to start with a flag raising at City Hall at 5 p.m. June 5, then continue with more events throughout the week after.
So far, confirmed events include a concert at the Orange Toad June 8, starting at 5 p.m., with a trivia night June 9 at Aurora + Pine Bistro and a drag show and cabaret event June 10 at Johnny’s Social Club.
The centrepiece will be this year’s Pride parade, going through Flin Flon June 11. The parade will go in reverse of the typical Canada Day parade route - starting at the former North of 53 Consumer’s Co-op store site near Main Street, then going up Main Street, down Third Avenue and ending at Willowvale Park with a barbecue.
Organizer Jordana Oulette said other events may be added before celebrations start, including the
“We had a couple of people, who were a little bit upset, that reached out to us and said their teenagers didn't feel like they belonged anywhere, that there was nothing going on for them. The drag queen story time is more oriented for the younger people that want to come out and see it,” said Oulette.
Some changes will occur from previous Pride events - namely, the painting of the rainbow flag crosswalk near Main Street. The Pride committee won’t be painting it again this year. Instead, the tentative plan is to paint a similar style rainbow over at least part of the walkway at the Hapnot Collegiate parking lot.
“We’re just in discussion - they’re letting us decide what we want to use with that. We still have to finalize plans and get the paint ordered,” Oulette said.
“Hopefully if the weather holds up, we can get it done by the end of May or during Pride week.”
This year’s Pride celebration is a time of thriving for the LGBTQ+ community in Flin Flon and across northern Manitoba, but at a time of turmoil for LGBTQ+ people down south.
The idea that eventually became Flin Flon Pride began in 2016, when Oulette held a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla. A gunman murdered 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub, in June 2016 - the massacre is the deadliest single act of violence against LGTBQ+ people in American history. In Flin Flon, the vigil to pay tribute to victims directly led to Oulette forming a committee to hold a local Pride event - the first of which was hosted in 2017. Flin Flon Pride has been held each year since, followed later by similar events in The Pas and Cranberry Portage.
In the past 18 months, almost 500 individual bills have been introduced in American state legislatures to curtail rights for LGBTQ+ people, several of which have since been adapted into state law. Many of the bills specifically seek to curtail rights for transgender people.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), 10 of those bills have been tabled in Florida - the same state where the Pulse shooting took place seven years ago.
“I think that fear kind of grows each year, after seeing protesters and hearing the horror stories of people getting hurt. It’s always in the back of your head, that fear that this could be us,” said Oulette.
No such opposition has been encountered locally - in fact, Oulette said businesses have come forward to show support and offer to host events. The City of Flin Flon has tentative plans to put a float in the parade for the first time. The committee is hoping to increase events for families and youth during this year’s Pride, all in the name of community inclusion.
“I think like an important part of it is not cowering - that's what some people want. They want you to stop being visible, to stop being loud. I think if we keep doing it, that spreads a better message,” said Oulette.