C/O Daniel James, Unsplash
Pride Hamilton was back in person, though with mixed responses from the community
After two years of virtual Pride celebrations, Pride Hamilton is officially back in person. According to the Pride Hamilton website, Pride celebrations have been happening in the city since 1991. However, the Pride Hamilton organization was only officially formed in 2018, hosting their first official Pride in Gage Park in 2019.
After this initial celebration in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Hamilton Pride online for the next two years. The digital Pride events of 2020 and 2021, featured a variety of 2SLGBTQIA+ speakers, musical performers, dance performers and drag artists.
In 2022, Pride Hamilton was in-person once again. The weekend featured numerous vendors, as well as performances by Nicky Doll, host of Drag Race France.
However, Pride Hamilton 2022 also saw some changes from the 2019 experience. Traditionally held in June, Canada’s pride month, Pride Hamilton was instead held indoors at the Hamilton Convention Centre on the second weekend of July.
These changes were announced in an Instagram post by Pride Hamilton on April 23, 2022.
“Planning Pride is not easy. There are so many moving parts and so many groups within the community that have voices and ideas that need to be acknowledged. When the government announced the lifting of restrictions, it gave us the chance to go back to the drawing board and create something fresh that could finally reunite us,” said the letter, which was signed by Kiel Hughes, the chair of Pride Hamilton.
Many community members have left comments expressing feelings of confusion or loss, regarding the changes of date and venue to Pride 2022. However, many others have expressed excitement about a return to in-person celebrations on Pride Hamilton’s social media pages.
Norah Frye, director of the McMaster Student Union’s Pride Community Centre, expressed excitement at being able to celebrate Pride in person once again.
While virtual events were necessary for Pride 2020 and 2021, Frye noted Pride is particularly difficult to celebrate online because a large part of Pride is existing together as a community in a comfortable and welcoming space.
“That’s part of what makes Pride such a novel, exciting, exhilarating, love-filled experience. Because you can feel, in the most physical and literal way, love and acceptance around you. And that’s something that’s really hard to foster online,” said Frye.
Frye also highlighted the uniquely intimate experience of Pride Hamilton, as compared to larger Pride celebrations such as Pride Toronto.
“You have this level of intimacy that’s just not always there when you do anything on a bigger scale; I think that’s really exciting to be a part of,” said Frye.
Though unable to attend Pride Hamilton this year, Frye looks forward to plenty of Pride-related events at McMaster throughout the upcoming school year.
“Part of my goal for the PCC this academic year is to make up for all the time that we lost when we couldn’t do pride in person,” said Frye.
Though Pride 2022 did not take the form everyone in the Hamilton community hoped for, it was still exciting for many to not only be able to celebrate in person and as a community again but also to be able to look forward to future events.