Cape Breton's Twelfth Annual PRIDE FESTIVAL


Reprinted from Coastal Braid Magazine

 by Peter Steele

It's that time of year again when we gather together as a huge community of friends, and we celebrate everything that makes us the wonderful proud people we are. To celebrate our spirit, our individuality, our hopes and our dreams, our many accomplishments, and of course our contributions to the world and to our community.

It's Cape Breton's twelfth annual Pride Festival, UNITED STRONGER FREE. Running August 10 to 19, this year's festival has again grown in size, with new events added along with the many festival standards, and more sponsors and contributors. This year we'll see a Pride Parade twice the size of last year's, and throughout the festival you'll be introduced to amazingly talented artists, painters, photographers, jewellery artisans along with singers and songwriters, and other creative sorts. This year's instalment of our very own Pride Festival is one you need to get out and enjoy, as it's sure to be the highlight of our summer! As in previous years of late, our first three days of festival events are also promoted as Action Week events, appearing in their advertising, postings and listings.

But before I discuss details of the events you'll get to enjoy, I want to give you some background into the theme of this year's festival, and how the theme came to be.

I had thought long and hard the past year about what this year's Pride Festival theme would be, and had a hard time coming up with something catchy, yet still meant something significant to our community. I wanted something that spoke not only of our own LGBT community, but to our other brothers and sisters living elsewhere and everywhere. Something that drew us all together, and could be an attraction for those elsewhere to come here.

Over the past twelve months we have been witness to horrible tragedy. We mourned the suicide of a Northside teen, and the brutal murder of Raymond Taavel. Yet in those tragedies, we've seen our wider LGBT-community, and our allies unite together. We all spoke out about the injustices that preceded these deaths, and swore to make it a better world so things like this don't happen again. These senseless acts have saddened us, but they've made us stronger. And they've made us realize that we are free to be who we are, and we'll continue to fight for this life of freedom we deserve to enjoy. Thus this year's theme, UNITED STRONGER FREE.

So the 2012 Pride Festival begins on Friday, August 10 we'll traditionally raise the Pride flag outside the Civic Centre, with the Mayor and Councilors expected to be present, however the official start to the festival will be given by Town Crier Gabe Doucette. Throughout the festival, we will feature at Art and Crafts Exhibit featuring the works of LGBT-identified artists at the McConnell Memorial Library in downtown Sydney, and times will be posted at our website. Later that evening, the festival kicks off with the Gay Straight Alliance Mardi Gras at the Grand Lake Fire Hall. This comes on the heels of the very successful, first ever GSA dance a few months ago. We're all looking forward to seeing the costumes and the creativity behind them. Admission is just $5, there' a best costume prize, canteen service, and music and lights by DJ Isnor. There'll even be a special performance starring the Maritime's top drag performer, Rouge Fatale.

Pride Parade - Saturday August 11 @ 12 noon


On Saturday, August 11, downtown Sydney will see our largest Pride Parade ever. There are more entries this year, and more floats, and local promotion hopes to bring more people out to watch the parade. This year's Pride Parade Grand Marshalls are the Island Gay Straight Alliances. Our local GSAs have and continue to demonstrated the true spirit of our theme, and we congratulate them for their strength, their persistence, and their integrity as the continue to make safe and welcoming environments for high school students. 

Later Saturday night a long time festival standard, Diva Delights hits the stage at the Horizon Achievement Centre, featuring our very own Rouge Fatale, along with Ms. Kimberly Diamondz and their friends. These incredibly talented ladies have been entertaining audiences nationwide, and our Pride Festival is always a highlight of their touring season. The show runs 9pm to 11pm, admission is just $10., and it'll be followed by dancing to DJ Isnor until 2am; 19 and over.

Sunday, August 12 brings back our PFLAG Family Day, the best day camp in the region, and fun for the entire family. There's hotdogs and treats, games and music, Anime and contests, and animals and reptiles, and it's all free! 

Later in the evening at 8;30pm, it's a festival favourite... Gay Bingo at the Southend Community Centre, and Glace Bay's Mrs. Stewart will be rolling the balls and calling the numbers for great merchandise prizes. Cards are #1. each, and 3 for $2., admission is free, and is 19 and over.

On Monday, August 13, PFLAG will host a free Family Hike up Coxheath Mountain at 12noon. Bring a picnic to enjoy at the hilltop lodge. And later, bring your own lawn chair to the Holiday Inn Sydney where they host the Monday Night Movie Screening. Another free event, at the 5:30pm family movie, it's Journey 2 - The Mysterious Island, and the 7:15pm womyn's movie is Can't Even Think Straight, with the 9:30pm men's movie, Beginners. There'll be popcorn, pop and water. 

Tuesday, August 14 has PFLAG's Diversity Day at Two Rivers Wildlife Park; regular park fees apply. Bring a picnic and enjoy the animals, petting zoo and swimming. The at 7pm, a new addition to the festival line up begins with our Pride Coffee House, hosted at downtown Sydney's Bean Bank Cafe. There'll be an Open Mic, but the night will feature Amanda Pembroke, Julie Lemieux, Krista Jessome and Marlene MacDonald. Admission is $2., the cafe is licensed and the BBQ will be on in addition to their menu.

Wednesday, August 15 is for music, music, music, and it's all great live music! Featuring some of Cape Breton's best singers and song writers, it's the Giant MusicFest, and it's grown since last year. The YouthFest at the Gayzebo, behind the Southend Community Centre will have an Open Mic, along with featured artists Cameron Hallohan, Violet Ross and Ramsey Drover. Admission is free, and canteen services will be available. Both Hallohan and Drover will appear at the AdultFest beginning at 9pm, which also features Alicia Penny, Jonathan Kanary, Trax Cordero, Hell's Belles and Julie Lemieux. Admission is by donation, and it's 19 and over. If you want to sit, you better come early, as this event is always one of our most popular events!

On Thursday, August 16, PFLAG will host a free Family Craft Day, 1pm to 3pm at the Community Room at Sobeys, Prince Street. They will also host the kid's version of karaoke, Staraoke at the Southend Community Centre, 7pm. I'll be followed by the adult version, Fairyoke at 9pm, and both will be hosted by Paul Turner. The evening's judges are Dr. Stephanie Timmer, Blair Hill and Madonna Doucette, admission is $5., and there's the top three merchandise prizes. 

Relax on the afternoon of Friday, August 17, and put the finishing touches to your costume. At 9pm, the Red Diner at Days Inn will be the feature venue for this year's Pride Mardi Gras Dance. Music and lights are by DJ Isnor, admission is $10., and cocktails and a pub menu will be available throughout the night. Days Inn will also feature a $99. per night rate for those attending any portion of the Pride Festival; be sure to mention it to them when you book. Be creative with your costumes as there's a big prize for best costume! 

On Saturday, August 18 we get to truly relax and party with friends at our annual Beach Party CampOut at Morrison Beach, just a 55-minute drive from downtown Sydney. Beginning at 2pm, it runs into Sunday, so bring your tent, your trailer, or maybe just your sleeping bag, even your bbq. Enjoy the afternoon before you campout under the stars. This is considered an adult event, directions and photos will be posted to our facebook page and sent to our email contacts, and Pride-colours related signage along the route from Sydney will direct you to this near Framboise beach. Something significant will mark the entrance!

We finish up our festival with our PFLAG Spiritual Celebration at St. Andrew's United Church in downtown Sydney, at 1pm, Sunday, August 19. Participants are always welcome to share in this non-denominational service.

So as you can all now see, there's lots to do over the course of our 10-day Pride Festival, and I hope you can all take in as much of it as possible, as it will no doubt be, the highlight of the summer of 2012! For updates visit us at or


Happy Pride everyone!

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