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qathet Pride celebrates inclusion, acceptance and diversity

Highly sought after host and performer Conni Smudge highlights week of events

Last April, qathet Pride Society hosted a well attended community consultation in the Town Centre Hotel ballroom to discuss its future, and qathet PRIDE week 2023.

With a dwindling number of society members and the COVID-19 pandemic, among other issues, the future of Pride week was unknown. The big question at the April meeting was: “What’s needed next for Pride in the qathet region more than 2,000 queer LGBTQIA2S+ folks?”

A new board of directors was voted in at the society’s annual general meeting, also held in April, ushering in a fresh focus and direction for the nonprofit organization. The new board is dedicated and focused on creating a future for qathet Pride for the next five years.

“I am very excited to be a part of planning Pride this year,” said board member Donna Gillenardo. “As a non-binary lesbian it's awesome to be a part of the process.”

Drag performer Conni Smudge will be back to perform during qPRIDE week, including at Pride in the Park, 12 to 4 pm on August 12 at Larry Gouthro Park. The picnic is a highlight event for the queer community and its allies. 

“Some amazing local vendors will be there and the Malaspina Ensemble will perform,” said Gillenardo. “It's going to be an amazing day.”

Another highly anticipated event meant to attract youth participants (but open to everyone) is the LGBTQIA2S+ Games Night hosted by qathet Pride Society and High Tide Games on August 15 from 6 to 9 pm. During the consultations in April, the society heard feedback from folks indicating an interest in more frequent, year-round events for the LGBTQIA2S+ community, and for getting youth involved in planning and organizing. 

“We are excited [about Pride week] but for the rest of the year we haven't planned anything yet; what we want to do is hopefully get some new younger people to join the board as well,” said society board member and LGBTQIA2S+ community ally Sara Mitchell-Banks. “I want to be a supportive ally and get out of the way so someone who is a part of the youth queer community can become a member.”

Smudge (Chris Bolton) has performed in a wide variety of venues including: “biker bars of Nanaimo, BC, and grand theatres of Europe,” according to Bolton. “Conni Smudge is based out of Vancouver and has been the face of several initiatives, events and charities, including: an appearance on Dragon's Den, the North American Outgames, Qmunity, City of Vancouver, North Shore ConneXions, Whitecaps FC, Pride Vancouver, and the Q Hall of Fame Canada, to name just a few.”

Another Smudge highlight of Pride week is a dinner and drag show at the Shinglemill Pub and Bistro on August 14 (5 to 8 pm).

qathet Pride Society is a non-profit, community-run organization, working on behalf of its members and the community to help connect, celebrate and make a difference in the lives of all residents. The society organizes Pride events for qathet Regional District and City of Powell River.

Pride week 2023 events are meant to be safe and inclusive celebrations of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, allies, friends, family and neighbours.

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