For 1000 Islands Pride Inc., this year’s instalment of Pride Week was the last prior to folding the organization.
The original committee has been dissolved, and the group is now calling itself the Gananoque Pride Alliance. The new organization will include members of the LGBTQ community and allies, with a wide variety of voices at the table.
The plan is to continue offering performances, but also education sessions, informal support, and community events – things that involve inclusion, accessibility and equity.
“We are open to new ideas,” said Sam Crosby, the former interim chair for 1000 Islands Pride Inc., and now the facilitator for Gananoque Pride Alliance.
Crosby added there will be a focus on developing grassroots “safe spaces,” highlighting local businesses for community members and visitors to the community.
Currently, the Alliance’s website is a work-in-progress that the group hopes to launch in September. In the meantime, those interested can check out Gan Pride Alliance’s Facebook page. The group’s Instagram account is expected to be made available in the coming weeks. The hope is, as well, that the Youth Committee Members of Gananoque Pride Alliance will be hosting a TikTok channel.
The former 1000 Islands Pride Inc. dissolved around two months ago due to a reorganization within the group, they said.
“Six of us agreed to do what we could to see Pride Week 2022 through,” Crosby said. “We were prevented from accessing any of the funds from the [1000 Islands Pride Inc.] bank account and when we finally could we discovered that funding and sponsorships we had been told were in place had been cancelled and/or returned to the organizations.”
Another issue they ran into was paperwork with Gananoque Town Hall was not completed, meaning dates for this year’s Pride Week event were not booked with the town. Eventually, that issue was solved, however, because of all this, relationships within the community were becoming strained, “but that was news to us, but we persevered,” Crosby said.
“It was difficult to remain positive and diplomatic,” Crosby said. “We decided, as a team, to do what we could with what we had where we were. Many of us invested both time and money, as our events would not have happened without both.”
But now, with Pride Week 2022 completed, the small-but-mighty group who helped this year’s Pride Week come to fruition are rebranding with a whole new vision, mission, and philosophy.
“We needed to get the idea out there that we aren’t just a Pride Week, that we’re going to be [a group] that works with other people,” Crosby said.
“‘Alliance’ was the word that made most sense because we have allies within our own community, between Prides, but also the allies who are important within the [Gananoque] community. Why can’t we have allies who are empowered to be involved on a deeper level?”
Now, the group is sloughing off the old, and ushering in a brand new and upgraded, all-inclusive, queer and ally initiative.
The Gananoque Pride Alliance will be holding its first meeting in the next couple of weeks, Crosby said. The group will be contacting people who expressed interest in growing the unity in the community and beyond in the next week.
“We will also be reaching out to other pride organizations in our rural areas to create an alliance of awesomeness,” Crosby said.
Anyone interested in being involved with Gananoque Pride Alliance can email [email protected].
(Keith Dempsey is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)