Hundreds of people took to the streets of Brandon for the southwestern Manitoba city’s Pride parade on Saturday.
And for people like Abby Babiak, from the small community of Cherry Point, west of Brandon, walking in a pride parade for the first time was exciting.
“It feels nice to finally be included in something after so many years,” said Babiak.
“I’m from a small town and we don’t really do anything in small towns.”
For said Saige Davidson, another first-time Pride attendee, the feeling boiled down to one thing.
“It feels comfortable,” said Davidson, who is from the village of Elkhorn, about 95 kilometres west of Brandon.
“Because you kind of live hiding a lot of yourself behind closed doors and you don’t really tell many people, so it’s nice to have a community…. I haven’t really been around many people like me.”
Brandon Pride chairperson Kenneth Jackson said he wasn’t sure exactly how many people attended Saturday’s parade, or the other events the organization held throughout the week, including a trivia night, live music and art exhibitions.
“I just know that I see a lot of really great, smiling faces and I see a lot of rainbows and I’m very grateful to be part of this community,” Jackson said.
He said the event has grown considerably since the first efforts to bring Pride to Brandon began in 2010. At the city’s first official Pride parade, about 200 people showed up. There appeared to be at least that many there on Saturday.
That means a lot, “just to know that these people are with us,” Jackson said.
“We’re going to keep this event [going] for many, many years to come — as long as Pride is needed.”
And after the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, which cancelled the traditional Pride parades, it was “liberating” to be back in person with the LGBTQ community, said attendee Cole Frison.
“You just look everywhere and it’s people that are like you and go through the same sort of struggles as you,” Frison said.
“And it’s comforting to know that you’re not alone…. It feels really good to finally get out again.”