I had always wanted to attend a Pride celebration and it meant a lot to me to attend and show my support for the community. I had searched around for information on Hamilton Pride last summer, but it didn’t seem like there was much happening. This year, The Well: LGBTQ Community Wellness Centre of Hamilton took over the organization of Pride and went all out with events all month long to celebrate. There were events such as a trans-only social, youth craft night, workshops, a poetry slam, and of course the main celebration – the Hamilton Pride Festival.
Avi and I met up with good friend and Honourary Tour Member Jamie, at 11am at City Hall for a rally. We were happy to see so many colourful supporters out on this gorgeous day. We kept cool in the shade and listened to the heartfelt and encouraging speeches, including an appearance by Mayor Bob Bratina, who lent his support.
From there, it was time to march! They specified it being a march, rather than a parade, but I love a good parade (“Don’t Rain On My Parade” being my own personal mantra) so I called it that. We marched down Main, rounding the corner at James, and walked all the way down to the Waterfront. Avi and I tried to capture the feel of it with photos, videos, and tweets – there was such an amazing energy being with everyone as we walked in the street, a lane being blocked off for us, and police escorting us alongside.
The Pride volunteers were friendly and energetic, occasionally getting a chant going. One participant played a steady beat on a bongo as we marched, which made us really step in time! Mayor Bob was just behind us and walked most of the way, and a lovely couple in front of us turned around and gave Avi and I some colourful, tropical leis. Then we were really in the spirit!
It was fantastic to be greeted with so much support from citizens as we marched by – lots of waves, car honks, hoots and hollers from people on foot and in the car. Walking down James North was a lot of fun, since by this point on our Tour, we know the street so well. I spotted Dave from Mixed Media, Hollie and Jane at White Elephant, and Roger from CBC Hamilton all outside their respective establishments, watching us go by.
Once we neared the James North staple, Mulberry Street Coffeehouse, Jamie and I decided we needed a little pick-me-up, so the three of us took a convenient little detour. After grabbing some iced coffees for a little jolt and to help cool down (and a delicious Dark City Brownie!) we scurried down the street to catch up with the procession, and seamlessly merged back into the flow.
When we hit the Waterfront, really one of my favourite spots in Hamilton, I didn’t know what to expect. The festival was a lot bigger than I thought, with the grounds of Pier 4 Park covered in tents, a stage, a barbeque all ready to go, and music blasting. Avi, Jamie, and I had fun strolling around in the sun, taking in all the vendors and sponsors before stopping for a rest under the beer tent to grab some drinks and watch the entertainment. It was some fabulous entertainment at that – there were several drag performers who took the stage and lip-synched to some classic pop hits, looking glamourous as they did! I’m a big fan of the art of the air band – I’m not much of a singer, but that I can do!
We took some more photos in the sun and just thoroughly enjoyed our time at the park and taking in the amazing, positive energy of the day. Check out our video blog of the day below (the first I’ve filmed and edited for the Tour!)