The first-ever Pride in the Puddle is set to take place Saturday, July 27 thanks to members of the Williams Lake Pride Society that have organized it.
Founded over a year ago by lakecity members of the LGBTQ community and their allies, the Williams Lake Pride Society has worked on a variety of projects and events. From the installation of Williams Lake’s rainbow crosswalk near Williams Lake City Hall to volunteering at various events, the society has worked hard to support the wider community its members are a part of.
All of this work culminates in an official celebration of Pride Month, usually celebrated in June, this Saturday with a Pride Parade and event. Muster for the parade is at 10:45 a.m. at the rainbow crosswalk which will wind down in front of the RBC down Oliver Street to First Avenue, up to Borland Street up to Boitanio Park where the events for the after-party will start at noon.
This event is being organized by Charlotte Mortimer, who has been a member of the society since its second meeting in 2017 and Jordin Lautsch a longtime resident of Williams Lake.
Read More: Williams Lake gets a rainbow crosswalk
Mortimer recruited Lautsch about a month before the event and he eagerly jumped into the thick of things to become her strong right hand.
Providing support and a place for LGBTQ community members has long been important to Mortimer, who said she’s seen too many friends be bullied or commit suicide in the past to stand idly by.
Lautsch agreed with this sentiment, citing a lack of education and understanding making it difficult to come out in the past. Both view Pride in the Puddle as an important step in fostering this understanding and learning for the youth and adults of the community.
“There are so many young kids in the community right now who are questioning their identity and it’s just really, really important that they have a safe space to come out, should the need be,” Mortimer said.
Education, Lautsch wanted to clarify, isn’t about telling the youth that they should live a certain lifestyle or another but is instead about making them understand that they alone can choose how to live their own lives. Making them feel comfortable to be able to be honest with themselves and feel safe to do so in their community, is a key part of why Lautsch supports the society. At the wrap-up party in Boitanio park, several vendors will be set up with informational pamphlets, he said, including Interior Health for youth and adults.
Alongside education, one of the society’s core mandates is that of celebration, which Pride in the Puddle falls squarely under Mortimer said.
To this end in addition to the parade they’ll also have bouncy castles, face painting and musicians set up in Boitanio Park to provide a festive atmosphere. Mortimer said she’s also looking into hiring jugglers and other such performers and has invited Pride groups up from Kamloops and down from Prince George.
“It’s kind of an all-around event for all demographics of our community that’s just not going to be geared all towards the youth, all towards seniors citizens and adults. We’re trying to make it so it’s a comfortable place for everybody in the community,” Lautsch said.
To finish off the evening there will be a banquet dinner at the Overlander Pub from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for $20, with a blues singer from Prince George performing.
For turnout, neither were sure how many to expect but both hoped the community would come out in force to support this event.
One thing that Lautsch wanted to be known is that Pride in the Puddle will not be similar to more commercialized versions of Pride, all “chaps and people wearing unicorn masks” with a sexual overtone.
“We’re trying to show the community that’s not what Pride is. Pride isn’t to go out and party, drink and do drugs and have unprotected sex wherever you want,” Lautsch said.
“It’s about acceptance of the LGBTQ as well as straight people. It’s about all of us getting the same rights and feeling comfortable in our community.”
Personally, he hopes people will participate with that mindset and while he feels turnout won’t be spectacular for the first year, he’s confident it will be something they’ll be able to build upon and make better.
Mortimer, meanwhile, sees it as a great thing to celebrate with the family due to the number of activities they’ll have available for people to partake in.
They will also be running a food drive for the Salvation Army Foodbank at the party in the park, Mortimer added.