Mike Desjarlais has been with the Grande Prairie Pride Society for seven years and is one of the founding board members of the organization. As Pride Month kicks off across the country, he’s looking forward to seeing the community partake.
It’s been three years since the community saw some big pride events and Desjarlais is amazed at the growth of the group, as well as the overall acceptance in the community.
“We are so excited to be able to celebrate the pride of this community in person again this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has kind of put a kink in it for the last two years,” he says.
Events were limited during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that just makes it extra special to see them back this year.
“We had activities like drive-in movies but of course, the restrictions prevented us from being able to hold the things we really enjoy like the Family Carnival, the Rainbow Teen Dance, the Party in White. We are so excited to bring all those events back.”
With the additional time to plan, Desjarlais feels that this year’s festivities are going to be massive.
“When we started planning pride events for 2020, it was supposed to be our five-year anniversary and a big celebration. Really we have been in the planning stages for two years now. Not only do I think of it as a celebration of pride, but a celebration with people and the overall community,” he says.
When asked about just some of the big events in June, Desjarlais was almost in disbelief at how incredible they are.
“We are bringing in RuPaul caliber queens this year. We’ve increased the number of tickets to the Party in White and Teen Dance by almost double the amount they normally are. When we put tickets on sale in 2020, they sold out really fast. When we saw that, we realized that we should think bigger for the next celebration.”
Desjarlais really appreciates the local community for their ongoing support and it means a lot to him.
“I never imagined in my wildest dreams that Grande Prairie would be so accepting and so pumped for pride and I just didn’t think that the movement would grow so fast,” he adds.
Grande Prairie city council will also be declaring June Pride Month on June 13th during their council meeting and the Centre 2000 Sundial will be lit in pride colours from June 1st until June 9th. Northwestern Polytechnic will also raise a pride flag for the first time on June 6th at its Grande Prairie and Fairview campuses.