Queen City Pride promises to be better than ever for 24th year

When Regina’s LGBT community first marched up Albert Street 24 years ago, they had bags over their heads to protect their identity.

This is the historical reality Regina Pride chair Jesse Ireland referred to before raising the rainbow flag at the legislature on Monday.

The city’s first Pride took place before the 22-year-old was even born. It is now he and a board of fresh faces who are organizing this years’ Queen City Pride.

“It is still quite a young board as far as age goes and experience, but it’s kind of exciting,” said Ireland. “It’s good to have sort of a fresh take on things…. as well as keeping true to some of the old favorite that we are used to having in the festival.”

All eight members of the non-profit organizing board have been there for two years or less. Lisa Phillipson, one of the board members and secretary for Regina Pride Inc., said there was a huge learning curve last year and they could only pull off a handful of ideas they wanted to.

It still worked — and last years’ celebration yielded a third more people than 2011. Now they want to keep that momentum going.

“We ended up taking what we knew — and what we wanted to do last year — and revamping it to make it work to the best of its ability,” said Phillipson.

“We did a lot of new and exciting things (last year) but we were not masters of our trade yet. So we had to kind of roll with the punches, and we learned from those punches and were able to organize better for this year.”

These ideas include holding events outside of traditional pride venues, like the community fair taking place this afternoon at the Cornwall Centre and the All that Glitters Party at Gabbo’s tonight.

“It’s nice to branch out into more of the straight community,” said Ireland.  “To have support from the allies and from people outside of the community as well, and to sort of have greater exposure of who we are.”

The board has been planning Pride for more than a year, and held fundraisers about once a month to support the celebration.

Since Pride started on Monday, there have been dance parties, an open mic night and art show.

Still to come is the annual White Party on Friday night, the Queen City Pride Parade and after festivities on Saturday afternoon, followed by a Pride Dance that evening. It all ends on Sunday with a community BBQ.

“We’ve really started trying to expand the festival and make it a bigger celebration than it ever has been in the past,” said Ireland.

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