It's Kootenay Pride Weekend in Nelson
One of the biggest, and proudest, events of the year is set to kick off this Friday, as Kootenay Pride takes over downtown Nelson for four days of parties, parades, and more.
The annual event, now in its 19th year, begins on Friday at Finley’s Grill, which is hosting a meet and greet and offering a burger and beer combo $15, with all proceeds going to help fund upcoming Kootenay Pride events.
The event’s organizer, Cole Johnston, spoke with The Nelson Daily to explain why this event is so important and what makes Kootenay Pride different from bigger cities like Vancouver and Toronto.
“Toronto and Vancouver have amazing Pride festivals, world renowned even,” Johnston said.
“But there’s something to be said for the grass roots and intimate nature of Kootenay Pride. This still feels like a true celebration of our LGBTQ community, rather than a corporate spectacle.”
Following the meet and greet Friday will be a night of heavy house music at Bloom Nightclub, with DJs Justin Pleasure & Braden Early on the decks keeping the tunes flowing all night.
The fun continues all day Saturday, beginning in the afternoon with Pride Coffee House at Expressions Café at noon, where anyone can participate in an all-ages an all-ages spoken word and acoustic jam, and continuing with the Spirit of Kootenay Pride at Spiritbar, featuring a drag show hosted by Conni Smudge and starring local talent Jackie A Go-Go, Ryder Goode, The Show Cats, DJ Coleo and DJ Rafferty Funksmith.
Sunday is when the parade itself takes place, running down Baker St. from Central School to Hall Street. The parade might be the big event, but it doesn’t end there. Anyone looking to wind down after the weekend’s madness is welcome to come for Mimosa Monday at the Hume Hotel.
“Nelson has always been a really accepting and friendly city, and that just naturally draws more of the same,” Johnston said.
“I think people equate Nelson with the arts, liberal thinking, and natural beauty, so it’s easy to see why people make the trek for events like Kootenay Pride.”
With election season beginning to kick into gear, local politicians are also coming out to show their support to the LGBTQ community.
Liberal candidate Don Johnston will be attending, and said in a press release, “In the 1990’s I worked very closely with the LGBT Centre in Vancouver on many issues including providing support to youth in rural communities through a telephone hotline.
“These concerns continue to have my clear personal support. We have a lot of work to do still but we also have a lot to celebrate. ”
NDP candidate Wayne Stetski will also be making an appearance, and told The Nelson Daily “I will be there, I’m looking forward to it. Basic humans rights are of concern to me always, that’s kind of the context in which I look at this.
“The NDP are the only party that has official spokespeople in parliament, and I think that sends an important message in terms of how the NDP feel about human rights in general.”
Organizer Cole Johnston echoed these statements and expressed his gratitude for the support of government officials.
“It’s amazing that we have local politicians wanting to be involved in Kootenay Pride,” he said.
“I’ve spoken with many of them, and it’s definitely not some publicity stunt. These individuals really support the LGBTQ community here. In addition to Don Johnston and Wayne Stetski, Michelle Mungall has been incredibly supportive throughout the years and is actually our Grand Marshall for the second year in a row.”