Parades, picnics, Disco Days and drag brunches. The list is long when it comes to the events and activities planned for Yukon Pride 2023. And, says Mira Sirois, the invitation is not only open to all, it’s important.
Especially these days, says Sirois, education manager with Queer Yukon, when the news is full of stories about everything from restrictions on gender-affirming care and restroom access, to bans on books and pronoun use. Sirois says it’s exhausting for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to be surrounded by that kind of information every day. Pride is a chance for allies to show support.
“We see that in the news. We see that anytime we go online,” says Sirois. “And sometimes it feels like we’re in it alone and no one is speaking up for us or fighting for us, outside of our own community. That’s why allyship is so important … I think it’s recognizing that we’re all of us together, and we need our allies to support us and uplift us because we are just a small percentage of the population. And it’s a very stressful time right now.”
Coming out to events that are open to all is a simple way of uplifting the community Sirois says. This year, there’s no shortage of opportunity for that.
Dawson Pride took place in late July, and included a teen-only parade and picnic.
“It was such a blast,” says Selene Vakharia, Pride Festival producer. “So many youth and their parents came out to be a part of the events, which is a big part of what we are trying to build for Pride — a festival that offers a safe space for community members of all ages to be able to be themselves.”
Vakharia says the Pride dance party sold out, with huge turnout for their tutu-making hangout and their Pride Your Ride hangout, which was a bike decorating event.
In Whitehorse, Pride kicks off Aug. 5 with a Pride parade through downtown Whitehorse, and runs until Aug. 13. On Aug. 8, east coast musician Mo Kenney plays the sold-out main stage at the Yukon Arts Centre. A teen Pride movie night takes place on Aug. 11 at the Cache, the new office of Queer Yukon on Fourth Avenue. A drag brunch on Aug. 13 features Ilona Verley from season one of the show, Canada’s Drag Race.
In Watson Lake on Aug. 19, there’s a float decorating event. The next day, the Disco Days parade travels along the Alaska Highway.
“Pride is really a party with a purpose,” says Vakharia. Especially in the Yukon, which they say has the second-highest proportion of transgender and non-binary people, per capita, in the country.
“Pride is a time of visibility, which is so important for both those who are looking for belonging, and also for our governments and policy-makers to see. Without that visibility, and the very visible support of allies, it can be all too easy for policy makers to ignore the needs of a group of people and to not consider them at all, or worse, to create and pass policies that do harm,” Vakharia says.
For anyone attending events as an ally, Sirois says the main thing to remember is to come out with an ear open to listening to the experiences and perspectives of members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
“One thing I say a lot in the training (offered through Queer Yukon) is you don’t need to know everything about a person to support them and to uplift people,” says Sirois. “Gender identities, sexual identities, they can be very personal facets of a person’s identity. And sharing those details can sometimes be vulnerable for people, but you don’t need to know these things about them to support them and to affirm them.”
Sirois also says to do as much of your own learning as possible, but if there’s something you don’t know about, ask someone in the community if they are open to answering your question. Consent is key, says Sirois.
“(Attending Pride) is a great way to see the people in your community, meet them, develop those relationships, and build bridges and see each other as, as human beings first and foremost,” says Sirois. “With that in mind though, it’s always good to remember that learning is kind of the responsibility of the ally. Avoid asking 2SLGBTQIA+ people to answer all of your questions. Sometimes it can be a very big stressor on our lives to have to constantly kind of advocate for the validity of our existence or to feel like sometimes you may be interrogated.”
For more information on timing, tickets and locations for events, visit queeryukon.com
Contact Amy Kenny at email@example.com