Some people are surprised it’s only been 50 years; others are surprised it’s already been 50 years. One of the biggest questions Marc-Andre Belair has, is how to contextualize for attendees of this year’s Yukon Pride that homosexuality was decriminalized in Canada in 1969. There’s a broad diversity of experiences in the North, said Belair, vice-president of Queer Yukon. Some remember a time before decriminalization; others don’t remember a time before same-sex marriage.
More than ever, this year’s festival aims to help everyone celebrate the milestone, with a solid week of events and activities catering to a variety of age groups and experiences. Last year there was a small youth event, but Belair noted it was planned last-minute and didn’t get the promotion it deserved. This year, Pride has been busy promoting Teen Pride Extravaganza. The free (and substance-free) event, taking place on June 7 at the North of Ordinary Experience Centre, will feature karaoke, drag queen Freya and local DJ Jeremy Parkin. Belair said it’s important to organize events that speak directly to youth.
“It’s time that we start recognizing that there are queer youth in the territory,” he said. “Historically, a lot of these events have been focused around dances and bars, and we thought it would be a great thing to give youth that opportunity (with this event.)”
Though he said it’s not just youth that need support when coming out. Ideally, he’d like to see a permanent queer space in Whitehorse.
“Having a permanent space with staff who are able to advance these issues with [Yukon government] and in the community would be really fantastic,” he said. “The second piece of that is to work with the communities and engage them and see what we could do to bring queer issues out in the open. There are a lot of people (in the communities) who don’t come out due to concerns around privacy. The Whitehorse and non-Whitehorse experiences are different.”
Some in the communities choose to keep their pride low-key, though he said Pride will be using social media to promote any events taking place outside Whitehorse.
If people are travelling into the city for festivities, two new additions include a queer trivia night and a queer film night. Queer Yukon partnered with the Yukon Queer Film Alliance to present two films at The Beringia Centre on June 4. These include a documentary called Stonewall Uprising, about the night in 1969 when police officers invaded a New York City bar. Arrests led to protests, which led to a landmark moment in the fight for LGBTQ2S+ rights. The second film, Giant Little Ones, is a full-length feature about two teen boys dealing with questions of sexuality.
Queer Trivia Night, being held at Winterlong Brewing, is a free event open to teams of between two and six people, being held on June 5.
As always, Belair said the parade and the Pride paddle will take place on the weekend, June 8 and 9, respectively, with the parade being followed by an afternoon picnic at Shipyards Park and an 8 p.m. performance at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre from Vancouver band Queer as Funk.
There are also going to be two dinner seatings at Antoinette’s (at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.), each of which includes a three-course meal and a mealtime variety show featuring beat boxer John Stosh, musician Aric Strong Norman and comic Wendy Morrison. Antoinette herself will emcee and regale the crowd with “vignettes of the (mis)adventures of a mid-life lesbian coming out.”For a full list of events and information about attending, including ticket prices, visit QueerYukon.com.