Timmins Pride Week has been cancelled but organizers are hoping to bring people together for virtual celebrations.
Fierté Timmins Pride's president Matthieu Villeneuve said the board is still at the very early stages of planning but they want to do something digitally in June.
“It’s going to require a lot of creativity on our side and we’re going to have to see what we need to do,” Villeneuve said. “Either we’re going to do a large Facebook event on just one day or we’re going to do a whole bunch of little ones, I’m not sure.”
Typically, the organization would have several activities and events held throughout Pride Week.
This year, celebrations were supposed to run from June 8 to June 14 with a highlight on Saturday’s parade and rally with hundreds of people attending.
However, all in-person events had to be cancelled in order to comply with the provincial emergency orders prohibiting large gatherings and requiring to maintain physical distance.
“It’s a little sad because a lot of people do enjoy the parade portion but, unfortunately, this year is just not feasible and it’s not safe,” Villeneuve said.
A virtual event has its benefits as it allows people who don’t feel comfortable enough to be at a large in-person event to join celebrations from home, Villeneuve noted.
For the local LGBTQ+ community, he said it’s been a bit “harder” during the pandemic as some members don’t have a safe place to stay because they either live with an abusive partner or cannot be open to being themselves.
“Unfortunately, we’re coping with that portion. But all in all, we’re resilient,” he said. “It’s not the first time the LGBTQ community has gone through a pandemic and we’re going to be fine.”
The pandemic has also had a financial impact on the organization. The annual Saturday’s parade, comedy and drags shows and charitable bingo usually bring money required for the non-profit to “survive” for an entire year, Villeneuve said. Now that the events have been cancelled, the board is exploring other creative options on where to get funding.
“I wouldn’t worry too much. We’re going to be comfortable enough to be OK.”
Despite the circumstances, Villeneuve stays positive and encourages members of the community to do the same.
“We’re not going anywhere. We’re going to still our best to make sure that our people get to still celebrate Pride this year.”