Weekend of Pride events celebrates community, struggle, Winnipeg organizers say

Downtown Winnipeg will be in a celebratory mood this weekend for the Pride Winnipeg Festival, with tens of thousands of Winnipeggers expected to take part in the live entertainment at The Forks, an annual rally, parade and more.

But while the events around Pride currently enjoy wide popularity, that wasn’t always the case.

Pride Winnipeg president Barry Karlenzig told Global Winnipeg the city’s first Pride event, which took place in 1987, was a far cry from the mega-fest Pride is today.

“In 1987, the first Pride protest happened, and it was a walk down Portage Avenue, where there were individuals with bags over their heads,” Karlenzig said.

“If their identity was known, they could’ve been persecuted, they could’ve been assaulted … there were various things that could’ve happened back in that day. It has definitely come a long way since 1987.”

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Thirty-six years later, he said, Pride is the second-largest festival in Manitoba, and the largest in the city.

This year’s event is slated to be the biggest yet, with more square footage added to the festival site, an expanded kids’ zone, and three stages of live entertainment.

Click to play video: 'QPOC Winnipeg on more representation at this year’s Pride'

QPOC Winnipeg on more representation at this year’s Pride

One of those, the community stage, is focusing on a specific group of Winnipeggers within the wider LGBTQ2 community.

Queer People of Colour (QPOC) Winnipeg’s Karen Sharma said the stage will be focused Sunday on celebrating queer and trans Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) artists, performers and musicians.

“We’re going to be really focused on creating a space that is celebrating and centring our community within the Pride festival,” Sharma told Global Winnipeg.

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“This is the first time anything like this has happened before (in Winnipeg) — this is our inaugural, first stage that is focused on our community.”

Sharma said BIPOC people have deep roots in the struggle for LGBTQ2 rights, but there was a recognized need to create spaces specific to that community.

“Even though Pride happens every year, sometimes we forget that the roots of Pride were really in trans women of colour, queer people of colour.

“Really fighting back and trying to ensure that within the community and within mainstream society, we were thinking about not just the impacts of homophobia and transphobia, but also the intersectional layers of racism, ableism and so many other forms of oppression that impact our community.”

A full schedule of this weekend’s Pride Winnipeg Festival events is available on the organization’s website.

Click to play video: '2Spirit Manitoba on Pride Winnipeg 2023'

2Spirit Manitoba on Pride Winnipeg 2023

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