Manitoba

'It's okay to be who you are': Flin Flon Pride to host spin on local beauty pageant

For the first time ever, Flin Flon’s Pride committee is hosting a spin on a local beauty pageant tradition.

Pride festival kicks off this weekend including a movie night, dance party, and family picnic.

The Flin Flon Pride parade kicked off Saturday drawing dozens to celebrate the LGBTQ2IA+ community. (Photo submitted by Jordana Oulette)

Flin Flon's Queen Mermaid beauty pageant is now Flin Flon's Drag Queen Mermaid pageant. 

The annual beauty pageant, started in the 1960s, was hijacked three years ago by the northern city's Pride committee. This year's event has taken another turn by welcoming drag queens. 

"We decided to revamp the pageant with a twist," said Jordana Oulette, the executive director of the Pride committee.

Participants - anybody who wants to take part - will dress up, strut on the catwalk and lip sync to a diva anthem of their choice at Saturday night's pageant. The event will be judged by three previous Queen Mermaids and they will eventually crown a Drag Queen Mermaid.

It's quite the change from the original pageant. From the 1960s until the mid-2000s, girls in the community would participate in the Queen Mermaid beauty pageant at the Trout Festival every June. 

Oulette said drag is very uncommon in the town, so she's had lots of inquiries about it.

"A lot of people are kind of hesitant because there's never been anything like it before. I've talked to a few people and they say, 'Oh, I'll get laughed at, ' or, 'Oh, I'll end up on social media,' or whatever," she said. 

Oulette believes it's important to give people from the LGBTQ2IA+  community a space to be themselves.

People walked in the second annual Trans March on Aug. 16, 2019, which is part of the Flin Flon, Man. Pride celebrations (Facebook/Flin Flon Pride)

"I think it's important just because we're trying to show people it's okay to be whoever you are. Nobody's going to judge you, it's okay, we're going to accept you," she said.

For Oulette, the annual Pride weekend is personal. She identifies as pansexual and grew up in Flin Flon with very few supports. That's why she started the Pride committee in 2017.

"I remember back when I was in high school, it was hard because there was nobody I could relate to, nobody I could reach out to. My goal for starting the pride committee was to make it easier for teens and kids to be accepted and to know there's nothing wrong with them," she said.

"I spent most of my school days figuring things out, figuring what I was and I got bullied a lot. I wanted to make things better for younger generations to come."

It's okay to be who you are, it's okay to have fun with it and we're all going to accept you- Jordana Oulette, Pride committee founder

The pride festival started on Friday and runs to Sunday. It includes a flag raising, a trans march, the official pride parade, the Drag Queen Mermaid competition, a dance party, a family-friendly movie night and a picnic.

Moving forward, Oulette said she hopes to expand the Drag Queen Mermaid pageant and include a more prominent drag queen in the celebration.

"I think it's important just to show people that it's okay to be who you are, it's okay to have fun with it and we're all going to accept you," she said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Bergen is a journalist for CBC Manitoba and previously reported for CBC Saskatoon. Find her on Twitter at @r_bergen or email her at rachel.bergen@cbc.ca.

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