Calgary Pride isn’t something you cancel, said the organization’s executive director, Parker Chapple.
While the 30th anniversary of Calgary Pride may not look quite the same as it has in year’s past, Chapple said they’re still committed to the celebration.
“Pride is not something you can cancel. Pride is something that is created every single day of the year and the Pride festival is a pinnacle of all of these activities, and the contributions of our community. That is never going to change,” said Chapple.
“How we choose to engage in that may change.”
With safety concerns around COVID-19, Calgary Pride organizers have pivoted. They’re now inviting businesses from across the city to participate in smaller, safer Pride events.
Their festival business initiative is the focus of this year’s celebration. Chapple said it will get the full weight of Calgary’s Pride’s communications and marketing budget.
“We’re still providing an opportunity to create visibility and celebrate those who are gender diverse and their allies and those acts of allyship that we’re doing so in a really safe and considered manner,” said Chapple.
The City of Calgary does have a public events ban that extends to August 31 due to the coronavirus pandemic. That means any permitted event on public property would be cancelled. Calgary Pride runs from Aug. 28 to Sept. 6 this year, straddling that date.
In a briefing last week, Mayor Nenshi acknowledged the extension of the public event ban could impact Calgary Pride.
Change of focus; other ideas instead of a parade
Chapple said that Calgary businesses have long been a part of supporting the LGBTQ2S+ community. Further, Chapple said that COVID-19 disproportionately impacts those in Calgary’s gender and sexually diverse community.
They said the Calgary Pride board believed it was their responsibility to support the economic recovery in Calgary.
Along with promoting their respective Calgary Pride events, the festival business initiative will also provide city businesses with free online diversity and inclusion training.
Chapple said they would also be boosting their online content for this year’s festival.
Live, online content will be made available. This includes performances from LGBTQ2S+ artists, workshops, interviews, and community newscasts. It will be free for the public.
While the organizers are still in contact with the city about potential options for the parade, Chapple said they’re hesitant to say if it will move forward. The province’s mass gatherings rule may be relaxed by that time, but Chapple said they were floating around alternatives.
“In the face of COVID, we wanted to create some programming that was true to the roots of Pride and its celebratory nature,” said Chapple.
“But also provide an opportunity for us to leverage our substantial reach in communications online, and through our traditional partners, to try to reinvigorate as best we can, that economic hardship these businesses are facing.”
For more information, visit the Calgary Pride website.