A first-ever Pride in the Park event is being planned for 100 Mile House Centennial Park on June 5.
The event, organized by Sabrina Zezza and Chris Pettman through the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre, is an opportunity for members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to gather together. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Zezza said they decided to make a group on Facebook called 100 Mile Queers and Allies a few months ago after moving to the 100 Mile House area a year ago from Victoria.
“I was struggling to find any queer spaces, online or in town. This was quite different from the vibe in Victoria, where I grew up, where there is a pride sticker in every other window,” Zezza said.
The group started growing and received a positive response.
“Folks were so happy to connect with other queer people in the area, parents were excited to have a space to learn and ask questions; it started feeling like the community I was longing for,” they said.
Zezza realized how interested everyone in the group was in meeting up. Along with Pettman, an accomplice to the queer community, they decided it was time to organize a Pride event in 100 Mile House after the Gay Straight Alliance and the Amnesty Club from Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School also reached out.
They are hoping for a turnout of 200 people.
Pettman said organizing the event was just a natural progression of all that he does for the community and that he is “very excited. It’s the first event like this, (and it’s) great to see allies, accomplices, and members. I encourage everyone to come show their support.”
Zezza said the queer community has been fighting for visibility for a while, but it is more difficult in a rural, conservative community such as 100 Mile House.
The event will start with an acknowledgement and blessing. It will be fun, free, and family-friendly, Zezza said, with food, music, activities, and hopefully drag. There will be a scavenger hunt and different games for youth, along with a pet parade for those who want to bring their pets and a prize for best dressed.
Pride swag, including pins, buttons, stickers, paper flags, and more, will also be offered.
“Basically it will be a big ol’ hangout in the park with some gay-themed music and free pizza and beverages,” Zezza said.
Zezza said they hope the crowd will be full of people who are either members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community or supporters. “I really hope everyone is entertained and has a great time. I hope we ordered enough pizza and the sun comes out for us.”
Zezza added they hoped to create “a sense of community.
“Having groups on Facebook and places where people feel safe to hang out or meet other queer people is so important, no matter how small or rural our community is,” they said.
“It was an integral part of my coming out story and the queer community is unfortunately categorically underrepresented.”
“I hope it will be an opportunity for folks to learn more about a community they may not know much about, or strengthen their allyship if they are already supporters.”