Why Calgary celebrates pride in September when June is ‘Pride Month’

You might be seeing all the rainbow flags, the corporate logos dressed up in rainbows or all the social media talking about “Pride Month,” but Calgary’s big weekend doesn’t technically take place until the end of the summer.

Calgary’s Pride weekend used to take place in June, the same as many other celebrations across North America that commemorate The Stonewall Inn uprising in 1969. That’s when a group of queer people rioted against police harassment at the bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

But while poignant, the previous date of Calgary Pride proved challenging for a festival synonymous with summer.

“It’s really a matter of weather,” said Zac Remple, communications co-ordinator with Calgary Pride. “We’ve done Prides in June and we always got rained on, and the weather in September is a little bit more consistent.”

Every (summer) month is Pride month

The other reason Pride was moved to the end of the summer was to allow for people to celebrate throughout the entire summer, from June all the way until September.

Still, in Calgary there are quite a few pride and LGBT-focused celebrations happening in June and throughout the summer, too.

Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival kicks off Friday with the film Neptune Frost, directed and scored by musician and poet Saul Williams while on a residency at the Banff Centre.

The festival runs until June 12 with 45 queer-focused films and five specially curated evenings, June 6-10, including Two-Spirit-led activities, augmented reality and a “mystical night of queer erotica,” according to a festival release.

This year’s edition is particularly important for the queer community and those attending the festival after COVID-19, according to Heather Shaw, marketing director for the Calgary Queer Arts Society, which puts on the festival.

“It’s being with your people. Being in your community, and people who really understand. It’s great that people want to come and be allies. But I really liked being in a theatre with, you know, my queer family. And so looking forward to it,” said Shaw.

The festival poster for the 2022 edition of Calgary’s Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival. (Heather Shaw/Calgary Queer Arts Society)

To kick off Pride month, Calgary LGBT networking group Pride in Business held its annual queer art show in the Engineered Air Theatre at Arts Commons, featuring photography, illustration, new media and dance.

“We don’t really have a set month every year for these events, but we thought it was a good idea to do it [when] Pride month was celebrated around the world,” said Felipe Jasso, who curated Pride in Art with his creative partner, Fernando Vargas.

“But I think and you can see it on the streets, like the conversation is already happening,” he said.

Pride in September will feature programming that runs Aug. 26 to Sept. 5, with the Pride parade happening Sept. 4.

The week will kick off with an event at Central Memorial Park and more programming to be announced soon.

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