North

Yellowknife Pride seeing huge crowds and sold out events

Yellowknife Pride is facing capacity limits as people show up to events in droves to celebrate and support the 2SLGBTQ+ community. "I'm just so excited that the community is as excited about what we planned as we are," said Chelsea Thacker.

People in the 2SLGBTQ+ community make alternate plans to celebrate

Yellowknife Pride is taking place this year from Aug. 3 to 6. Many of the events taking place are seeing an unexpected turnout, and tickets for upcoming events are already sold out. (Rose Danen/CBC)

Yellowknife Pride is in full swing this week and organizers are facing capacity limits as people show up to their events in droves to celebrate and support the 2SLGBTQ+ community. 

Thursday night's Trivia & Queeroke at the Top Knight Pub had to turn away a long line of people after reaching capacity at almost 200 people.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, the Yellowknife Pride planning committee said signup for its 4th Annual Rainbow Run was already 50 per cent full. Amanda St. Denis, the organizer of the Rainbow Run, said she expects remaining spots to fill up quickly.

And tickets for Saturday's 'It's a Drag Bingo Night' and 'Over the Rainbow Pride Party' sold out early in the week.

The planning committee, which is organized by the Northern Mosaic Network, did not expect tickets to sell out this quickly, according to Chelsea Thacker, the executive director of the Northern Mosaic Network.

"It's amazing that it went so quickly. I'm just so excited that the community is as excited about what we planned as we are," said Thacker.

'Craving being in community'

Yellowknife Pride announced a ticket raffle on Thursday night for the Pride Party as an answer to the high demand for the event. These tickets are listed as "standing room only" as seats in Raven's Pub were already full.

Yellowknife Pride suffered a three-year hiatus during the pandemic, and this is the first fully in-person celebration since 2019. Thacker said they think this is a large contributing factor to the unexpected turnout.

"I think people are really craving being in community. So it's really important for them to be able to come out to events and have that access," said Thacker. "And we tried to make events as accessible as possible so we have been seeing more people than ever engaging with the festival."

Yellowknife also has an above average 2SLGBTQ+ presence compared to other cities in the country. Data from the 2016 census showed that two per cent of all female couples in Yellowknife are in same-sex relationships, more than double the Canadian average and the highest among all Canadian cities.

Disappointed Pride-goers make alternate plans

Because of the high demand for Yellowknife Pride events, many people who belong to the 2SLGBTQ+ community are missing out on the festivities.

Bridget Rusk and her friends are among them. 

"I think it's amazing that after COVID and not really having this style of Pride last year that the committee has had such warm reception and success… but personally I'm crying in gay tears," said Rusk. 

Yellowknife Pride volunteers hand out rainbow cupcakes at Cupcakes for Commemoration on Thursday. Over 200 cupcakes are estimated to have been handed out. It was one of the many events happening this week as a part of Yellowknife Pride. (Rose Danen/CBC)

Rusk was able to attend the Trivia & Queeroke on Thursday night, but just barely. 

"We barely got in," said Rusk. "There was a big line behind us and then we were the last table to be seated. I was going to be sad if we were there and there were no more tables."

Rusk is also missing out on Saturday's festivities.

Tickets for the Bingo Night and Pride Party were being sold last weekend at the Old Town Ramble & Ride, as well as at the Juniper Health Clinic during business hours.

Rusk says she was out of town for the long weekend and by the time she messaged Yellowknife Pride on Instagram on Monday evening, tickets were already sold out. She quickly realized she wasn't the only one who missed out.

"We were at a barbecue and then realized all of our friends there who were the demographic who would want to attend didn't succeed in getting tickets," said Rusk. "So then we thought we still wanted to celebrate Pride so I guess we'll do it our way."

Rusk and about 20 other people put together a Facebook group to plan an unofficial alternate Pride celebration. They are planning a western-themed pub night.

"We're inspired by the fact that it's Pride week in town so we're just expanding that to celebrating it in our own friend groups," said Rusk.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rose Danen

Reporter

Rose Danen is a small-town reporter from Ontario. She loves telling stories about politics, social inequality, and small communities. She previously reported for CBC North in Yellowknife. She can be reached at rose.danen@cbc.ca.

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