A moving start to Gananoque’s Pride Week

At around 9 p.m. on Friday, Jul. 8, 2022, a gay couple from Sarnia was walking down the street as people mingled outside Royal Canadian Legion Branch 92 in Gananoque.

The couple wondered why everyone was dressed up for a prom.

That’s when the couple were informed that 1000 Islands Pride Inc. was kicking off Pride Week that night with a Big Gay Prom at the legion.

The couple had been together for 28 years, but were never able to go to a prom together.

“This was their prom, their inaugural prom,” said Sam Crosby, the 1000 Islands Pride chair. “It was beautiful.”

(L to R) 1000 Islands Pride Inc’s interim chair, Sam Crosby, Gananoque Councillor Dennis O’Connor, Gordon Cooke, Bianca Timmerman, Cara Dixon and Makayla Swain gather for Pride Week. Photo by Keith Dempsey, Local Journalism Initiative reporter.

Organizers and the DJ of the prom were able to play the couple’s favourite song, ‘Time of your Life,’ by Paul Anka.

“We played the song for them, everyone cleared the dance floor, and they had their first dance at prom,” Crosby said. “And our vendors put together this basket of things for them to help them commemorate the prom. It was utterly one of the most moving things ever.”

Saturday saw a hotly contested roller derby affair between Kingston and Ottawa at Lou Jeffries Gananoque and TLTI Recreation Centre.

“We had over 150 people walk up to the door (to get tickets and attend the event),” said Crosby. “We had families from Kingston, one person said they saw us on Facebook and they came down from Belleville, and we had one couple from Montreal come down just for the (roller) derby. It was fantastic.”

And on Sunday, a small group gathered at Town Hall to raise the Pride Flag. Crosby gave opening remarks, followed by comments from Gananoque Councillor Dennis O’Connor.

“Some people, again, came in from Kingston,” said Crosby. “We had someone from the Royal Military College (of Canada) representing the Queer Union with them. It was all wonderful. Everything has been working in a way of bringing people together. It’s been a really great week so far.”

Pride Week continues throughout this week. The final day is Saturday, Jul. 16, 2022, with vendors in the park at Town Hall Park from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., a Pride parade at 11 a.m. from Gananoque Secondary School to Town Hall Park, live entertainment at Town Hall Park from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and a pub crawl from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. for those aged 19 and older.

“Everyone from the community has been so lovely and wonderful,” said Crosby.

For more information on activities planned for Pride Week, go to 1000islandspride.ca or 1000 Islands Pride Inc.’s Facebook page.

(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.)

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