Bubba & Bugs Coffee Bar in Downtown Kemptville hosted their Pride Month celebrations during the week of June 15-20. Bubba & Bugs, otherwise known as Scott and Luc, admit that activities for this year are somewhat limited due to ongoing Covid-19 concerns, "there are things that we would love to do and are waiting to do, we are kind of keeping in our back pocket for now." Nonetheless, they felt it necessary to, "keep the spirit going, unite people, remind everybody that this is a safe space." Though the whole month of June is Pride Month, Bubba & Bugs chose this week to celebrate Pride since they also have events for Father’s Day and Canada Day in the month of June. Celebrations included: pride themed menu items; Pride Lunch Boxes, a fundraiser for Bruce House, an Ottawa based service for supporting individuals and families impacted by HIV; a "Pink Carpet Ball" inspired by the drag ball culture originating from Harlem; and a market featuring pride themed items and items made by local members of the LGBTQ+ community. On Friday, Bubba & Bugs invited a guest barista for the day. Kiki Coe, an Ottawa based drag queen, brought glamour andcheery conversation to the guests dropping by that afternoon. Kiki noted that she loves coming out to rural communities like Kemptville, since, compared to the city, "people here are so welcoming." As it turns out, people felt welcomed by Kiki in return. A local member of the queer community said, of Kiki, "As soon as I saw her I felt safe."
Feeling welcomed and safe is a key dimension of what Scott and Luc have aimed to do through Bubba & Bugs. Scott explained, "Just prior to buying the place, we had come down for Kemptville’s first Pride. We realized there’s a movement happening here, it’s growing, what a great time to jump in and be a part of it. We just really wanted to create a space where there is a zero tolerance policy for ignorance, and that people coming in here feel protected and feel safe." This has been difficult, since Bubba & Bugs only opened in April of 2020, they have only served the community in the context of Covid-19 lockdowns and precautions. Nonetheless, Scott and Luc have made sure Bubba & Bugs is a place where positive relationships are fostered. Scott said, "Right now it’s a brief transaction, since it’s takeout only. But we make it clear that you have friends here, you have a foundation here, things are improving, and they will keep getting better."
Scott and Luc’s intentions with Bubba & Bugs resonate with Kemptville Pride’s theme for the year: Show your rural pride. Scott noted that in a rural community, "any small influence can be pretty impactful." And Luc emphasized that, "from the get-go, we’ve said we’re a gay couple, we’re together, and we’re opening a safe space. We’ve never hidden — we will not go back in the closet because we’re in a rural community." It is clear that having an openly gay couple making a successful life for themselves has an impact for people who may nototherwise feel safe to come out. Luc says they have had, "some really amazing experiences," in which people came in or wrote to thank them for inspiring the courage to come out. To Luc, this, "just shows you we made a difference, even when we weren’t sure we would."
Though Pride always carries some serious undertones due to the ongoing challenges involved in being an LGBTQ+ person, Pride is also about having fun. Scott says that he and Luc, "find silly new ways to do things here. Yeah we’re in a rural setting, we don’t have access to a lot of things, but let’s do what we can and add a little life!" While celebrating their Pride week, it is safe to say Bubba & Bugs did just that.
Rachel Everett-Fry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times