Calgary Pride seeks help from local businesses for 30th anniversary amid economic downturn
By Karina Zapata, Publishing Editor
As Pride Month comes to an end, many Calgarians are looking forward to September — when members and supporters of the LGBTQI2S community come together to celebrate resiliency, community and love during the Calgary Pride Parade.
However, Calgary Pride’s 30th anniversary will look a little different amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, Calgary Pride is urging businesses across Calgary to collaborate in hosting smaller Pride events or initiatives from Aug. 28 to Sept. 6. The organization is offering free online diversity and inclusion training to any business that participates.
“Working together, Calgary Pride, local businesses and our partners will bring to Calgary an event that is more than a celebration of our diversity, but a movement toward unity and prosperity for all.”
Calgary Pride is curating online content for businesses and the public, which will be available to view across various social media channels. This content includes performances, workshops, interviews and community newscasts — all centred around celebrating the LGBTQI2S community.
Calgary’s unemployment rate rises
According to Calgary Pride’s website, the impact of COVID-19 on Calgarians across the board is what sparked this reimagination of Pride.
Calgary’s unemployment rate increased by 5.1 per cent from January to May, according to the Government of Alberta. Further, that rate increased by 8.8 per cent from May of last year. As of May 2020, 15.5 per cent of Calgary’s active labour force is unemployed.
“We know COVID-19 is impacting the employment of 53% of Canada’s gender & sexually diverse community,” reads a press release by Calgary Pride. “Though members of the LGBTQ2S+ community are disproportionately impacted, Calgary Pride’s board and leadership team believe it is our opportunity and responsibility to support the economic recovery and wellbeing of all Calgarians.”
The impact of COVID-19 on the LGBTQI2S community
According to the Egale report cited by Calgary Pride, “On measures of physical and mental health, household finances, and overall quality of life, COVID-19 is having a significantly stronger impact on the LGBTQI2S community compared to national results.”
The national survey states that an estimated half of LGBTQI2S households in the country have struggled with layoffs or reduced employment hours, in comparison to 39 per cent of overall Canadian households.
Additionally, members of the LGBTQI2S community are disproportionately affected by mental health during this time, with 42 per cent of the community reporting significant impacts compared to 30 per cent of non-LGBTQI2S people.
To continue supporting Calgary’s LGBTQI2S community during this time, Calgary Pride requests that all businesses holding Pride events include a fundraising option for patrons who are participating in events. This funding will go towards supporting the organization’s operations and future plans,
Calgary bans conversion therapy
After a year-long fight from Calgary Pride and community leaders, Calgary city council recently voted to ban conversion therapy. The bylaw, which passed on May 25, calls for a fine up to $10,000 for businesses who offer conversion therapy for a fee.
Conversion therapy is the practice of trying to change a person’s sexual identity, sexual orientation or gender expression. It originated from the 19th century, when same-sex relationships were deemed as deviant and psychiatrists began addressing the issue to reverse homosexuality.
Conversion therapy is known to be an extremely harmful practice for those who are forced to participate.
In a tweet earlier this year, Mayor Naheed Nenshi stated, “Conversion therapy is an insidious practice, and your City Council has unanimously taken a stand against it. […] No matter who you are, you belong here.”
Visit https://www.calgarypride.ca/ourpride/ to learn more about how to become involved in Calgary Pride’s 30th anniversary celebration.