Why N.B.'s 3 biggest cities mark Pride Month in August

·4 min read
A file photo of the Fredericton Pride Parade in August 2018.  (Michael Charles Cole/CBC - image credit)
A file photo of the Fredericton Pride Parade in August 2018. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC - image credit)

June is Pride Month in many cities in Canada and around the world, but not for New Brunswick's three biggest cities. Pride celebrations usually happen in August each year in Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton.

Amelia Thorpe, board member and former chair of Fierté Fredericton Pride, said the festival is held in August for a number of reasons, including volunteer availability.

Thorpe said "rainbow capitalization" — the commercialization of LGBTQ movements like Pride — is another reason for spreading Pride festivals out throughout the year instead of packing them all into June.

Submitted by Amelia Thorpe
Submitted by Amelia Thorpe

"The corporatization of Pride has really created a sometimes exploitative push for everything to fall in June, kind of neatly packaged in to maximize photo ops and marketing opportunities," said Thorpe.

While Thorpe said Pride is about celebration and visibility, she said it's also political.

Stonewall riots

June was originally designated Pride Month in the United States to commemorate the Stonewall Riots. The riot began in June 1969 after police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York City's Greenwich Village.

In Canada, the first gay rights protest happened in August 1971 at Parliament Hill, where protesters presented the government with a petition demanding equal rights and protections.

Thorpe said Pride cannot be separated from its roots as a movement against police brutality. Fierté Fredericton Pride tries to put a focus on honouring these roots in their events year-round, she said.

"Remembering and honouring these roots through community building, advocacy and education is central to our mandate," said Thorpe.

Submitted by Michael Cummings
Submitted by Michael Cummings

"Holding Pride in August has shown for us to allow for greater accessibility, and has allowed us a longer period for planning to ensure that the events are meeting our mandate."

When Fierté Fredericton Pride's board changed in 2019, it was up to the new board to decide whether the Pride festival would continue in August.

Thorpe said they considered the fact that a number of other organizations claim June for their events, which made it less attractive. June is also Indigenous History Month, Filipino Heritage Month, Seniors Month, Portuguese Heritage Month and Italian Heritage Month.

"By holding our events across the summer, across the year even, we're not watering down the options available to folks to learn and to build community within June, or stepping on the important work of other organizations," said Thorpe.

Queer Canadian history

Sara Hubbard, president of Saint John Pride, said celebrations are held in August not just because of the sometimes-rainy June weather, but also because of Canada's LGBTQ history.

She said the first Canadian Pride Week was held in August 1973 in different cities across Canada, including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

LinkedIn/Sara Hubbard
LinkedIn/Sara Hubbard

"It's kind of universally held that June has been Pride Month," said Hubbard. "But … August has been Canada's Pride [month] historically."

Hubbard said although many Pride festivals in New Brunswick are held in August, they're starting to shift away from having all events concentrated at one time.

She said Pride festivals are staggered so people can attend their own community's events along with festivities in other cities.

Saint John Pride wants to ensure that Pride is celebrated all year instead of just during one week.

"We're not just talking about Pride once a year, we're talking about it and doing community events that boost pride in our community all year round," Hubbard said.

Pride festivals 2022

The Moncton area holds River of Pride in August, as well. Rebecca Rogers, president of River of Pride board of directors, said Moncton Pride usually happens last in the province so it doesn't overlap with others — this year from Aug. 19 to 28.

The festival events might not look like a lot in comparison to some years, Rogers said, because of issues arising from COVID-19, such as not getting sponsors for the festival.

"We are doing the best we can with a stripped down budget," said Rogers. "But we will be having events every day."

Hubbard said Saint John Pride has new events coming this year and they're hoping to partner with different communities, even outside of Saint John, for the Aug. 2 to 7 festival.

"I think it's going to be one of the best years yet."

And if you can't wait until August, the Charlotte County Pride Festival is on this week, until June 18.

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