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Pride festivals catching on in northern Ontario

More communities in the north are joining Sudbury in organizing pride festivals.
Sault Ste Marie and Timmins will be hosting their first pride festivals in September.
Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins will hold pride parades for the first time ever this fall. 5:18

More communities in the north are joining Sudbury in organizing pride festivals.

Sudbury has had a pride festival since 1997 and supports people who are LGBTQ:  lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.

Now Sault Ste. Marie is gearing up its first pride festival.

Theodore Syrette says many LGBTQ people in the Sault live in the proverbial closet out of fear they won't be accepted in the city.

"There's so many stories. You hear of youth who don't come out. And they leave northern Ontario to go find a bigger urban centre."

Syrette said he hopes the festival will show gay northerners they belong in the north.

'This could work'

The Sault isn't the only northern city embracing pride.

Julie Demarchi is heading up the first pride festival in Timmins next month. She said many people in her city still have misconconceptions.

"The comment was, 'I've never seen anyone gay in Timmins.' There are people [who] believe that there are no gay people in northern Ontario," she said.

“People are leaving. Young people are leaving the city of Timmins because they feel like they don't belong. Because they feel as though their different and they're not supported."

Meanwhile in North Bay, Luke Ferrier was surprised when he moved to the city and couldn't find a pride group — so he started one.

"I think it's slowly kind of crawling its way up northwards from Toronto. People in the north are kind of realizing, you know, this could work."

Ferrier said he wants to organize a pride festival in North Bay by next summer.

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