At the start of 2015 Capital Pride declared bankruptcy (see timeline here) and many in the community feared for the future of Pride in the nation’s capital. Although the new Ottawa Pride group began with shaky support from the community, at one point disgruntling community members by stating that it was invite only, Pride has managed to launch a fully-fledged festival in only 4 months.
Ottawa Capital Pride isn’t the only game in town. The Velvet Studio and Daily Xtra! also reported on Anti-Capitalist Pride, a move to protest the corporatization and exclusionary nature of large Pride organizations. They complained of tokenizing and economic barriers (Pride’s social has a $30 ticket). It was reported to the Velvet Studio that the anti-capitalist Pride group splintered as internal group issues prevented substantive work. However, the organizaers did manage to create one of the City’s most accessible event. Their “#NotMyPride – Picnic and Park Show is on Sunday 5pm-11pm and is designed to be a event for folks who are underserved in the community. With language support in 4 lanaguages and ASL and LSQ the group have also arranged to provide childcare, and is a recovery friendly event. They state “The Anti-Capitalist Pride organization is holding a picnic in the park for the unrepresented and underrepresented members of our queer community who are pushed to the margins by rich owners who want to make Pride into a homonationalist display of assimilation.”
The Queer Mafia which has one of the best track records for events in Ottawa is also throwing their ‘Oh-My Jam’ event on the Saturday with DJ Lissa Monet. Billed as Ottawa’s biggest Queer Jam Hip Hop, RnB Dancehall Reggae event it’s also less than half the price of Pride’s competing event the Pride Social. The Queer Mafia’s event also posts a safer space policy as well as accessibility notices. The Queer Mafia didn’t just work on their one event, the whole week is littered with workshops, and movie nights. The peak of their talents however is in the ‘Queer Pride’ events on Sunday. The event on Somerset St features a tonne of events, with at least 6 locations simul-casting a DJ line up from Union 613. They also have Bike Jousting, a Sexy Car Wash, a photo booth, mural and cake painting a BBQ a gender mixer and much more. In keeping with their community feel there will be a rapid HIV testing available, from one of their co-organizers the ACO. The Queer Mafia’s list of community partners appears to even rival Ottawa Pride.
The rivalry doesn’t end there. On Friday night the ‘Sashay Event’ will be at Barrymoores and has DJ Stephen Grondin from Montreal. It’s billed as Ottawa’s largest gay party. Ticket’s start at $15. If you wait too long outside you might find yourself swept up in the ‘party bus’ going to the ‘Rainbow Dance Party’. Although not confirmed, it was suggested to VS that Pride’s TBD location is very near the Sashay event. The Rainbow Dance Party is around $20 and features a ‘Glass Shower’ at Obsession Dance Club.
During the past few months there was the assumption that Pride events would not happen without Capital Pride. This has been refutably disproven, for example, the Queer Mafia held a ‘Pride’ movie showing, along with the Village on another day, Suzie Q hosted a viewing of ‘The Fantastic Mr Fox’ and a little more old school with ‘The Wizard of Oz’ from the Centertown Movies. Out of all of the drama between community leadership, rivalry imagined or real the real victors in Ottawa this summer has been the community at large. We have seen the introduction of more accessible events such as ‘The Fresh Zone’ hosted by CAPSA & Ottawa Pride for people who are allies for recovery. We have also seen the activist community galvanize and organize incredible events such as ‘Gay Torment’ an event screening a series of documentaries and alcohol free dancing. Some long standing Pride events will still happen such as the Parade (see GLBTory story) and other partner events.
Regardless of your opinion of what happened to Pride last year, this year we have more events, more accessibility, more community building and more opportunities to celebrate our pride in a way which feels most comfortable to you.
EDITORS NOTE: A previous version incorrectly stated that Sebastien Provost was involved with the Sashey event.