Don’t wait for your invitation in the mail – Yukon Pride isn’t an exclusive event.
“I think sometimes that some of our straight allies, they feel like they need to be invited to an event, which I totally understand,” says Rian Turner who, along with Fi Griffin, Chase Blodgett and Stephanie Hammond, is one of the co-organizers of this year’s Pride celebrations, taking place June 10 and 11.
“But we’re a community that’s about inclusivity, absolute inclusivity. We’re celebrating ‘come as you are,’” she says, stressing that everyone is welcome – to support, watch, cheer, dance and enjoy the weekend, which is in its fifth year.
Turner says it’s amazing to note how far the event has come in such a short time. In 2013, she says it was 40 people waving flags from a truck. Last year, between spectators and participants, there were roughly 1,000 people.
For the anniversary this year, the celebration has grown as well.
Yukoners can expect flagship events, including the Pride Parade and Picnic on Saturday afternoon. Parade floats gather at 12:30 p.m. at the Whitehorse United Church before heading down Main Street and along the River Trail to Rotary Park for a 1:30 p.m. picnic.
There, Turner says, a new addition to the picnic is a booth staffed by Yukon EMS. EMS will be participating in the parade for the first time and the ambulance will be parked at the picnic for the kids.
Turner says that, in addition to being something fun for families and kids, the booth will hopefully help bridge a gap Turner sees between the medical and queer communities.
Sometimes, she says, people in the queer community don’t want to call the paramedics out of a fear of not being accepted.
“We thought it would be really great for (EMS) to come out and support Pride,” she says, noting it should be a casual, friendly way for people to meet local paramedics on a personal level.
Another new addition to the 2017 celebration is a contingent from Pride Vancouver, which is coming up for the weekend to help spread spirit – and swag, Turner says.
For homegrown spirit, the City of Whitehorse is painting the crosswalks at Main and 3rd Ave. with rainbow and transgender flags.
The biggest difference though, is the Saturday night party, called Gin & Jazz. Turner says the weekend’s sole evening event (also the only 19+ event) is usually a dance party at a bar downtown. This year though, it’s a 1920s-themed night at the Transportation Museum.
It will be similar to a speakeasy experience, Turner says. The Museum will be outfitted with a faux back alley entrance (built by YuKonstruct) and a secret password you only find out when you buy your ticket. There will be a photo booth onsite for “mugshots.”
Starting at 7 p.m., Yukon Swing will give an hour of dance instruction before playing a few sets of swing standards. They’ll then be followed by DJ Steve, who will spin Pride anthems and dance music for the rest of the night.
The weekend will close with a Pride Paddle at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. Up North Adventures is supplying canoes and kayaks at a discounted price ($15 for a rental, plus a shuttle back downtown from Takhini River Bridge).
Turner says the support from local groups, businesses, and organizations has been incredible. In addition to the partnership with Up North, the Roller Derby team is dressing up as cigarette girls and selling candy cigarettes, shooters, and glow sticks at Gin & Jazz.
Be the Change is doing valet parking by donation at the event, and a buffet that night will feature food from Antoinette’s, Fine Culture Cheeses, Atlin Coffee Roasters and Blackbird Bakery.
Mayor Dan Curtis and MP Larry Bagnell have made several appearances at past parades and at various fundraisers. Turner says that people often also travel into town from Yellowknife and across Alaska.
“The community is growing, but also the allies are growing and it’s really important for us to have allies,” she says. “It’s nice for the queer community to see how many people are supporting them and to have this moment where they get to actually physically see the support… I think that’s important in this day and age.”
Visit QueerYukon.com for more information and to buy tickets for Gin & Jazz.