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Celebrating Pride in the Bay of Quinte


Our local Pride committees are gearing up to celebrate a busy Pride Month this June—seriously, there’s going to be so much to do and take part in. While we believe in celebrating Pride all year round, we want to shine a light on the work these committees do, all the celebrations they have planned for the month and what it means to them to see Pride celebrated in their communities. I recently caught up with three local committee members for their thoughts.

Interviews by Anna Fraiberg

Read time: 6 minutes

Bay of Quinte Pride

Name: Lynn Olsen

Pronouns: She/Her

Role: Chair, Bay of Quinte Pride Committee 

How long have you been involved in organizing local Pride events and why did you get involved? I was asked to join the committee in Sept 2021 by the former Chairperson. She selected me to be the co-chair that same year. She retired from the committee in April 2023 and then I was Chair.

What are some things we can look forward to this year? Kicking off the month on June 1 we’re having a Unicorn Scavenger Hunt throughout downtown Belleville, ending at Market Square. Over 15 businesses are involved and you can win prizes by filling out your passport. 

We also hope to end that day by breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people wearing a unicorn horn on their head (currently 334). 

On June 3, we are holding two flag raisings; one in Belleville and one in Quinte West. Say Out Loud pizza night will take place at Boston Pizza on June 4 and our fan-favourite bowling night is back at Quinte Bowl on June 5.

The biggest event, our Pride parade and vendor show will take place on June 8th with the parade starting across from The Empire Theatre at noon and making its way down Front Street to Dundas and ending in Zwick’s Park. Pride After Dark will wrap up the day at The Belle Pub. 

Another event to highlight is Drag Storytime at the Belleville Public Library. Our very own Lily Devine will be gracing us with her presence for a children’s story time!

A Pride parade making its way down the street with participants waving rainbow flags
Photo: Michael Brethour Photography

What does it mean to you to see Pride celebrated in your community and in the Bay of Quinte region? Our theme this year is “we’re still here, can’t stop the music.” Until very recently, many have been ignored, beaten, jailed or worse just for being queer. We’ve come a long way in the past 50 years but not nearly far enough. The beatings still happen. The scorn, disdain, and verbal assaults continue to this day. As a cishet (someone is both cisgender and heterosexual), I don’t see it a lot, but it’s there. I hear it from the other committee members and from friends. In some countries, it’s still illegal. If I want to travel I can go just about anywhere safely. I don’t even think about it. Folks in the queer community don’t have that privilege. I can walk down the street with my husband any time anywhere. Nobody bats an eye. Queer couples don’t have that privilege. That’s why we do what we do. That’s what it means to us. We have straight, gay, bi and trans folks on our committee. The straight ones (myself included) have kids who fall somewhere in the rainbow. We do this for them. Belleville has come a long way in being more inclusive, even from 10 years ago. Other communities in the Bay of Quinte region have as well, but there is still a lot of work to do. We don’t expect everyone to welcome us all with open arms, although that would be nice. We just want acceptance. Not tolerance, acceptance. We’re still here. Can’t stop our music.

Greater Napanee Pride

Name: Tiffany Lloyd

Pronouns: She/Her 

Position within your Pride committee: Vice Chair

How long have you been involved in organizing local Pride events and why did you get involved? I’ve been involved since the 2021 – our first parade year. Originally there wasn’t a board. It was a grassroots community group. One of those members asked me to come in and be the treasurer. It’s certainly come a long way since then and really has become my passion project.

What are some things we can look forward to this year? We’re thrilled to build on the success of previous years with our annual parade, vendors, and community activities that have always been a highlight, but this year, we’re adding an expanded lineup of live music and performances from Teagan McLaren, Kris & Dee, Bon Evans, Stephen Medd, Catherine Hernandez, Joy Stix, Tyffanie Morgan and Tianna Miller. The Legion will be hosting a charity BBQ, there will be lots happening for children, and in the evening we’ll be heading to the SPC Banquet Hall for an incredible drag show and dance with Headliner Suki Doll from Canada’s Drag Race Season 2!

What does it mean to you to see Pride celebrated in your community and in the Bay of Quinte region? It’s incredibly important that we serve as a beacon of inclusivity and diversity in our rural landscape. In Greater Napanee and throughout the Bay of Quinte, we are committed to demonstrating that small-town pride is not only viable but can flourish, fostering a welcoming and inclusive community for the 2SLGBTQIA+ population. Celebrating Pride here is more than just an event; it’s a vibrant assertion of our dedication to the journey towards equality and justice. Pride in our region does more than just bring the community together; it weaves a richer cultural fabric, stimulates the local economy, and most importantly, upholds the well-being and dignity of all citizens. Each year, as we gather to celebrate, we are reminded of the strength found in diversity and the continuous need to advocate for a more inclusive future for everyone.

Tyendinaga Pride

Name: Brandon Arnold

Pronouns: He/Him

Position within your Pride committee: Lead Organizer 

How long have you been involved in organizing local Pride events?
I have been involved with Tyendinaga Pride from its inception in 2020. Just like everyone else we had to navigate our way though covid by holding pride virtually which brought its own unique challenges. But now for our 5th year we are looking at our biggest Pride month yet.

What are some things we can look forward to this year?  This year we will be holding our annual Pride Car Parade on June 2. We will be leaving at 10:30am from Deseronto’s Centennial Park located at 183 Main Street and head to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte’s Administration Office at 24 Meadow Drive where we will raise the Pride Flag for the 5th year, followed by a community BBQ to help kick off the month.

New this year, we will have a Friday Nights Pride Film Festival on June 7, 21, and 28 at the Karonhiak’takie Sports Complex’s Lacrosse Box. The three films we will be showing are Wildhood, Disclosure, and Pray Away. All movies will start at dusk.

a pride flag and mohawks of the bay of quinte flag on the same flag post

Our drag show this year is titled “5 Aunties & an Uncle”. We are always excited to hold this event as Tyendinaga’s very own Georgia Nite will be our mistress of ceremony.

And our final event this year, also a first for us, is a Pride Prom on June 29.

What does it mean to you to see Pride celebrated in your community and in the Bay of Quinte region? Pride is about celebration, representation and most importantly the promotion of inclusion and safety. To be able to hold Pride on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory is a huge step in providing our own community members with a sense of safety and belonging. For a very long time, members of the community who also identified as 2SLGBTQIA+ would leave the territory seeking a place of acceptance and safety and to finally now be able to promote that here is a major step in the right direction.

an open book with a pencil sticking out of it.

A collection of all our stories from the BOQ

binocular icons
a man riding a wave on top of a surfboard.

Let’s see what we got!

a black and blue logo with the words bay of county.

The Bay of Quinte RMB Land Acknowledgement

The Bay of Quinte Regional Marketing Board is committed to acknowledging, appreciating and understanding the Indigenous peoples’ historic connection to this land and to raising awareness by building relationships in collaboration with Indigenous partners and communities. 

We recognize and acknowledge that we are living and working on the traditional territory of the Wendat, Mississauga, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee which includes the Kenhtè:ke Kanyen’kehá:ka (Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte) with whom we work in direct partnership with. 

This partnership focuses on the common goal of celebrating the region with the Kenhtè:ke Kanyen’kehá:ka who are equal partners within the organization and at the Board of Directors table contributing to the mandate and operations.

This mandate includes listening to, learning from, and collaborating with the Kenhtè:ke Kanyen’kehá:ka and actively incorporating their culture and heritage into the practice of responsible destination marketing and management of the region.

We understand that this land acknowledgement is only a small step towards the larger process of reparations and reconciliation.

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