Sask. celebrates Pride Month together or apart

Prince Albert Pride Chair Marc Roberts hangs up flags on the stage in Kinsmen Park during a 2019 celebration. (Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald)

This June has been a Pride Month unlike the rest.

Normally, members and allies of the LGBTQ community are celebrating diversity at in-person events like parades or workshops. This year, they were forced to find different ways to connect while COVID-19 continued to spread through the province.

“We were all pumped and ready to go and then all of the sudden the breaks got hit,” said Prince Albert Pride Chair Marc Roberts about this year’s events.

The organization held onto hope when the pandemic entered Saskatchewan in March. That’s when the board usually starts lining up acts and venues.

When the lockdown hit shortly after, they accepted that the in-person celebration likely wouldn’t happen, but thought they could maybe do something virtually.

“There’s just that lack of connection that we weren’t expecting,” said Roberts.

However, he said, the pandemic hasn’t stopped the community from celebrating pride. It just looks different.

“We’re still celebrating our month. We may not all be together, but we’re still together in spirit,” he emphasized.

“I’ve got my flag hanging up at home and a lot of other people did and they sent pictures of them.”

Prince Albert Pride collaborated with the Mann Art Gallery to offer kits for families to make pride-themed stepping stones. A few of the other local events included a diversity service at the Calvary United Church and a flag raising at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

Roberts said Prince Albert residents also submitted a drumming video to the Global Pride celebration taking place virtually on Saturday.

Other pride organizations, such as in Saskatoon, have held virtual parades.

“It’s not the same, but then it is. There’s still the sense of community there,” said Roberts.

There’s been so many milestones for the inclusion of the LGBTQ community, he said, but there’s still work to do.

“We’re always making progress, but then you turn around and suddenly behind you is a gap you’ve missed somewhere. So again, we’ve been focused a little bit on the two-spirited aspect, trying to reach out to our Indigenous groups and bring them in.”

In 2005, same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada. That was a major improvement, said Roberts, but others milestones didn’t occur until much more recently.

Another important aspect of inclusion in Saskatchewan is having the option of using ‘X’—meaning that your sex isn’t specified—instead of male or female on your driver’s license and photo identification. That came into effect on Mar. 25, 2019.

Some provinces are still left without that option.

“It’s just more acceptance, you know, governments and companies are recognizing the sexual diverse rights and allowing different partners and things like that,” he said.

“If anything the message that we want to have is we’re still here. We may not be as visible or out, but we are still here and we will still continue to be here,” Roberts added about Prince Albert Pride.

The board always looks forward to Pride Month, but it’s important to be an ally all year round. Roberts said you can do that by simply being accepting.

“It’s important that you just respect the people as who they are and that’s enough to be an ally.”