Windsor Pride Fest, scaled down for the last 2 years, has a big kickoff
Attendees say the festival gives them 'a sense of self' and a feeling of community
Windsor's Pride Fest kicked off Tuesday with the raising of the flag in Charles Clark Square — the launch of a string of events that some attendees say gives them a sense of self and a feeling of community.
Dozens of people came together in front of Windsor's City Hall Tuesday afternoon to watch the Pride flag raising. Over the next week, Windsor-Essex Pride Fest is holding several events in celebration of the LGBTQ community.
Those events include bowling nights, live entertainment, and a parade on Sunday.
"It's amazing. Every year, [the flag raising] gives me chills," said Windsor-Essex Pride Fest president Wendi Nicholson.
"We still have so far to fight, but you know what? It's step by step."
Some of those who attended Tuesday's flag raising event said they're happy to see in-person Pride events return this year.
"It gives me a sense of self, so it's a lot," said Jasmine Wood.
"It's brought me out from a lot of dark places so it's nice to have the people that make you feel like yourself around."
Attendee Naveed Arafat said having a community around him "means everything" to him. He moved to Windsor in February.
"I didn't grow up here and where I grew up there was no community, so to find a place like this here, like a community, it means so much to have people to talk to and to have people to look up to," he said.
Windsor-Essex Pride Fest, a non-profit organization, is also marking its 30th anniversary this year.
"Back when [Pride fest] first started in the parking lot of a Walkerville pub, there was maybe a dozen people," Nicholson said.
"Now it's like, it just blows my socks off every year."