(Artwork by the amazing and talented Sage Lansard @artificial_customs ❤️)
Over a year ago, early on a Sunday morning while sharing our first cups of coffee of the day, the Airdrie Pride Society brainstormed the ways our organization could provide our LGBTQ2S+ community with support so they wouldn’t have to venture to Calgary to find it. How could we remove the all too common negative perceptions that keep so many people from living genuinely in our community? How could we make sure that nobody felt alone? With a few more cups of coffee and much brainstorming, the 2019 Pride Festival, “Putting Down Roots”, was born. Almost a year later, on June 22, 2019, at 11:00 am, surrounded by love and inclusivity, our feet will touch the pavement of Main Street, Airdrie, and this dream will come true.
As the planning process comes to a close, I think it is safe to say that we were all a “touch” naive about what is involved in planning a festival like this! Our eyes have been opened, but, at the same time, I trust that our hearts are exponentially fuller than they were a year ago. The planning process has been filled with endless imagination, limitless passion, and a seemingly unending commitment to do all the work necessary to make the event a success. Balancing our full-time jobs, family commitments, and the rest of life’s demands, the Airdrie Pride Team has remained engaged and full of love and motivation to see this event happen in our City. Even in these final days the text messages, “How can I help?” continue to dominate my notifications, and if at any moment our energy starts to fade, there is a hug and a helping hand to keep each other going. As we nervously and excitedly approach the finish line to this historic day, I am feeling exceptionally grateful to have shared this journey with the incredible and inspiring humans that are your Airdrie Pride Society.
When we decided to hit the “post” button announcing this inaugural festival to the world only a few months ago, we genuinely felt uncertain and nervous about how our City would react. We were worried that we might get push back and we were unsure how much the residents and businesses of this City would want to embrace and participate in this festival. Nevertheless, fueled with a passion for removing the negative perceptions and fears of so many in the LGBTQ2S+ in our City, we collectively took a deep breath, pushed the ‘post’ button and trusted that regardless of what happened, we would travel down that road together.
With a single mouse click, it started. Our City responded, our province responded, and our country responded. News of Airdrie’s first pride festival rocketed through social media, and almost instantly, we were overwhelmed with positive messages of support. Our inbox filled with requests for media interviews, with offers to help, and with a mountain of encouragement that it was “about time” for this event in our City. We had artists and performers reach out with enthusiasm to be part of our first show, and we packed Good Earth with amazing people that wanted to volunteer and help. Within the first few weeks, we realized that our first Pride was going to be much larger than any of us could have ever imagined.
Within the week, Rose Gold Body Piercing stepped up to be our Gold Sponsor. Abe’s Diner, Sorso Lounge, Espresso & Wine Bar, Davis Chevrolet, MODUS, and Tet M Photography followed as participating sponsors. Many other businesses throughout the City accompanied these with a genuine willingness to have our rainbows on hand and collect donations and showings of support. On top of all of this, over thirty-five companies and non-profit organizations have purchased a booth space and plan to participate in our festival.
Throughout the last six months, we have had the sincere pleasure of working with The City of Airdrie staff who have stood firmly beside us and shared our vision and passion for bringing this event to Airdrie. We have had the opportunity to speak with Airdrie City Council and share more about our organization and festival which was met with a unanimous showing of support. Through this, I am confident that we have built lasting connections that will help us be more responsive and effective for our other community programs.
While we are grateful for the financial support to ensure this event happens, what is exponentially more meaningful to us is the outpouring of care and inclusivity in the community and the number of new safe places that have blossomed through planning and promoting this event. This aspect is something that we cannot put a price on and leaves us confident that we have created lasting change.
On Saturday, June 22, 2019, we will come together to show solidarity for our community. We will celebrate the progress we have made while ensuring we display compassion, awareness and understanding for where the challenges remain. Together we will plant our rainbow roots and trust that, with time, they will blossom into a beautiful lush forest of support and inclusivity that protects and makes the path safer for all those that follow behind us. We trust that we are building something bigger than all of us, and that needs to be here long after we are gone.”
Please join us on this historic day in our City. Trust that in a single day, together, we have the power to make it unequivocally clear that everyone deserves space and love in our community. June 22, 2019, will be that day.
See you there!