June is Pride Month, and although the COVID-19 pandemic has interfered with Airdrie Pride Society’s plans, the organization will still promote inclusivity and solidarity throughout the month.
During a regular meeting May 19, Airdrie City council declared June as Pride Month in Airdrie. Kiersten Mohr, president of Airdrie Pride Society, said Pride Month is an important moment to look at the progress that has been made towards equality for those in the LGBTQ2S+ community and to also evaluate how much still needs to be done.
“There’s still parts of that community that face incredible amounts of discrimination,” she said. “Everyone hasn’t seen the same progress in the community. I think that taking the month to recognize where those challenges still exist and build some awareness around that is definitely a really positive thing to do.”
Airdrie Pride Society hosted the city’s inaugural Pride festival and solidarity walk in June 2019. The group was excited to follow up the successful event this year, but those plans were disrupted by the pandemic.
“Last year really put us on the map in the Pride community, and we were really looking forward to seeing what this year looked like,” Mohr said.
Instead, Airdrie Pride Society is now planning a number of initiatives to commemorate Pride Month in a way that is both meaningful to the LGBTQ2S+ community and prevents spread of the virus.
“Obviously, we feel it’s really important to do something and make sure that everyone in the community knows we’re here and knows there’s support here,” Mohr said. “Now more than ever, quite frankly, it’s really important.”
One initiative is Pride on Your Porch, which Mohr said is a way people can visually demonstrate their solidarity.
“We’re looking for people to decorate their porches or the windows on the front of their houses – or, you know, the sky’s the limit with respect to the different things you could do to show support for this community,” Mohr said.
Airdrie Pride Society is offering of downloadable content on airdriepride.ca that can be coloured and used to decorate, but Mohr said families participating in Pride on Your Porch are encouraged to decorate however they see fit.
Throughout Pride Month, Airdrie Pride Society will also be partnering with and promoting inclusive local businesses. During the inaugural Pride festival, Mohr said many businesses were incredibly supportive. Now that they have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, she said the organization wants to return the support.
“This is a really hard time and situation for a lot of businesses, so another initiative we’re doing is reaching out to any business that wants to be a part of Pride Month and to work with us to do something, whether it’s doing interviews with us or selling products or just showing their inclusivity,” she said.
Mohr noted City Hall will be illuminated the night of June 28 to commemorate the anniversary of Stonewall Riots.
Locally, Pride events serve as a reminder that the LGBTQ2S+ community is present and active in Airdrie, Mohr said.
“The biggest benefit, by a long shot, of the festival last year was the number of people that showed up,” she said. “For me personally, or people that have lived here a long time and not really felt at home, I know that just seeing that quantity of people was incredibly impactful, just to make everyone not feel alone out here.”
While she’s disappointed plans for this year’s Pride Month were cancelled, Mohr said she wasn’t worried about a loss of momentum. Once it is safe to do so, the Pride festival and solidarity walk will return.