by Nicholas Ruest
The Pride “week” actually began on Saturday, August 11, with the Queer Youth Craft Day and Clothing Swap Shop event and ran for 15 days with up to four events scheduled each day.
Official slogans of Pride week were “Thank you for coming out” and “Ottawa’s most colourful festival,” and a few others from the crowd grabbed my attention: powerful messages like, “Same sex messed me up and the truth set me free,” “I’m so old I can’t see straight,” “Do not hate anyone but love your neighbor as you love yourself,” and “St. Benedict: all are welcomed in Christ.”
I was fortunate enough to get a chance to speak with the chair of Capital Pride, Loresa Novy, to get some expert feedback on the events. I asked what her favourite float entry was and she responded by stating, “My two favorite floats this year were from the Youth Services Bureau and the Ottawa Knights, our audience winner!” When I asked her what the best events were she said, “The flag raisings at City Hall and the Police, Fire and Paramedics headquarters, but also the queer youth prom where I was amazed to see so many youth having fun and being themselves.”
The front of the Capital Pride Parade was full of laughter, excitement and positive energy. Over a dozen motorcycles—the type you can hear for a mile—led the way. There was also a Pride flag, the size of a major city intersection, that allowed the crowd to contribute donations to the foundation. My favorite part of the parade was seeing the big smile on the face of my friend, Joanne Law, trans educator from the Capital Pride board of directors, as she rolled through town driving a 1985 Buick Riviera Convertible. Law was quick to bring my attention to the celebrity this year, T. Eileen Murphy, the official Grand Marshal of the Pride Parade.
The next major landmark in the parade was Miss Capital Pride 2012, who put on a good show, waving from a red Jeep. Following Miss Capital Pride was Gender Mosaic in pink and blue, the Ottawa Gay Men’s Chorus and the Aids Walk for Life, sporting traditional red ribbons. The next group showed how important it is to report acts of homophobia (as this is the organization’s mission and title). Other notable float entries were the Canadian Cancer Society, Chinatown Remixed, Atheist Pride (“Stop faith based bigotry”) and the Social Network for Gay Women.
Pride is something that’s important to all walks of life in Centretown, including Ottawa City essential services. Public service entries included the Ottawa Police, Paramedics, OPSEU Rainbow Alliance, Ottawa Public Library, Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa, and the Ottawa Public Health float (with a “Get Tested” theme). The Amalgamated Transit Union made a great impression with a exceptionally decorated city bus. However, the public service that stole the show was the Ottawa Fire Department as they engaged crowds using loud intercoms and sirens, most notably in the shaded area of the Baptist Church at the corner of Elgin and Laurier.
For some people, gay pride is about getting an education on the topic and becoming comfortable with this transition in society. The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board was featured in the parade in a decorated school bus. Another exciting bus was the Great Canadian Theatre Company’s red double decker! CUSA represented Carleton University well and the University of Ottawa Pride group also had a good turnout.
Gay pride is not all about education and public service, it’s also about sports, recreation and leisure! Notable sports organizations in the parade were the Rainbow Rockers curling club, the Rideau Valley Roller Girls, and Gay Ottawa Volleyball – and none more entertaining than the infamous Ottawa Wolves rugby team with their illustrious dance routines.