August 4, 2011

Fredericton Celebrates Pride: Why It’s A Big Deal

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Written by: Jai
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fredericton flag raising pride

As a young Vancouverite living in Davie Village and attending every pride I could after coming out in my late teens, I found myself restless at 23 and in need of a change.

How I came to live in Fredericton has more to do with the way the wind blew than anything else, really, but regardless, I did my research and was looking forward to moving to a place said to have the second largest LGBTQ population per capita in North America (San Francisco being the first).

I envisioned a small gay village with a cluster of quaint gay bars nestled in a sleepy downtown core, likely with a fiddler playing either on the street corner directly outside the establishments or on each stage nightly before the DJs rolled in.

In light of upcoming Fredericton Pride celebrations and five years after having moved away, I found myself reflecting on my experiences there.

If this was an AV piece, now would be the time that the scratchy rewind sound is played.

There are two major universities in Fredericton and they share the same campus and the same GBLTQ group for students and the larger community. (They call themselves Spectrum and to this day I have never encountered a better name for a group such as this). Upon attending the first meeting of the new school year, I was asked by the three returning members of the executive committee to attend the next two meetings which, according to their constitution, would qualify me to be elected to the executive committee. I was from “away” and was the only female, so I scored points there, I suppose. Needless to say, I went, they voted and elected I was.

There were no rainbow stickers to be seen in any store windows and furthermore, none were available for purchase. When Spectrum made it our mission to get the downtown business merchants on board with the gay agenda, I had to pick-up rainbow stickers in Montreal while passing through during Christmas break.

Fredericton *does* have a bar for us! It is called boom! nightclub and according to their website, they aim to provide “all people of Fredericton, regardless of sexuality, a world-class place to party and be themselves.” Hmmm, so not exactly a gay bar, but we’ll take it! Although there were no pride stickers outside either; I was told that the risk of the windows being smashed was not worth it.

The Pride Parade of the summer of 2005 was an entry in the Canada Day Parade comprised of two guys and a banner.

When my straight friend went home to Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia she called me to say that she missed the gay culture of Fredericton that she had come to love and appreciate (?!).

The culture of remaining closeted, sadly, seemed to run deep.

Furthermore, after I moved away, but just three summers ago, the mayor of Fredericton made the Pride Week proclamation only after he was ordered to by the provincial Human Rights Commission. He turned his microphone off before doing so. And this summer’s pride parade is only the second annual! Although it will take place on the walking path down by the St. John River, it does not involve closure of the downtown core like most Canadian pride parades.

All this to say that Fredericton is not exactly a mecca of gay culture and there is much work still to be done when it comes to acceptance of sexual minorities on the part of the general public, and, I would venture to say, the minorities themselves. Events planned for Fredericton Pride in the upcoming days are integral to fostering both. I wish I could be there once again to add my presence and my voice to the movement and celebrations.

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About the Author

|Montreal Contributor| Critical pedagogist and media scholar, counter culture by nature, champion for the underdog, challenger of all who glorify the status quo or romanticize the past, Canadian wanderer, animal lover, washed-up athlete turned yogie.



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  1. Ty

    Great post Jai.

    Fredericton: We’re here and we’re Queer!

  2. menescus

    Hey Jai – Great blog post.

    I agree with you on pretty much everything when it comes to how you are describing Fredericton. There are two technical errors that I need to point out. One is that the proclamation has been read for more than three years. I can’t remember exactly how long but believe it’s pushing ten years now. Also, the reason no streets are closed for the parade is because one of the two bridges in the city has been closed for repairs the past two summers. Considering the Canada Day parade has also been canceled these past two years, we can’t really say much about being on the trail. Next year we (the Pride organizing committee) will be playing with different ideas on how to maintain the uniqueness of walking along the river while also gaining the significance of having streets closed for us. Wish us creative thinking!!

    There are more queer folks here now who are not willing to live in the closet. If you’re ever back for a visit on a Tuesday evening, come check out the Queer Theory Collective.


  3. Mr. Peabody

    The statistics aren’t off at all: Fredericton has the second highest percentage of CLOSETED gay people per capita. The numbers are right, it’s the description that’s wrong.

  4. Dallas

    Love this article.. as a former Vancouverite now Vice President of Pride Calgary, the plight of the ‘conservative’ closeted city such as Fredericton and Calgary is a long and difficult haul. What I have learned through my four years here is that it takes only one person to create change. People need someone to follow and for those that take the lead.. keep going, regardless of how hard it seems. We have grown from a 2000 person Pride Celebration in 2008 to a 10,000 person celebration in 2010. This year we have had to move the celebration to a larger venue and our Mayor for the first time in Calgary history, is our Grand Marshall. When I look out at the crowd during Pride I always catch one teenager dancing without a care in the world who is so happy to be in a space where he/she is not judged and can live as they wish. This is why I do this.. Try to take some time out to see what you have created and why you need to continue to do so.

  5. John

    We’d love to have you back Jai! Great article btw.

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