Organizers at Ottawa's Capital Pride festival say more young people are taking part in Pride celebrations than ever before, thanks to more outreach and youth activities.
Participants in the annual festival are gearing up for Sunday's parade down Bank St.
Organizers said they are hoping to see a record number of young people marching with Ottawa's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
"We've seen a huge increase in youth presence at pride," said Jeremy Dias, who runs Jer's Vision, a diversity organization that helps set up youth events for Capital Pride.
"This time there are three times as many events as last year that are youth or youth-friendly."
Youth taking on more leadership roles
Dias said it's not always easy for young people who are unsure about their sexuality to attend the festivities.
"LGBT young people who may or may not feel comfortable telling their mom or dad where they're going, who don't want to have it called a gay and lesbian party dance – they may want to have it called something a little bit more discreet," he said.
Hannah Watt, 18, is the youngest board member for Capital Pride and is organizing Pride's biggest youth event: a cabaret-themed prom for teens aged 13 to 19.
"There's not necessarily a community for youth. They can be spread out all over the city and their schools may not accept them and so they can feel pretty alone," she said.
Watt said not only are more young people attending Pride events, but more are taking on volunteer and leadership roles like she is.
"It's not always easy for anyone to be visible in Pride, but I definitely think for the youth that can be visible, it's really good that they are because youth aren't always given the opportunity to have voices," she said.