Brie Treviranus striking a pose on stage with the stage lights set to the pride rainbow.
Brie Treviranus aka George Swooney performing at the tri-Pride Music Festival.

Despite the pouring rain, Brie Treviranus, more commonly known as George Swooney, arrived to perform at the tri-Pride Live Music festival to a crowd of hundreds of Pride supporters and celebrators.

Treviranus was among the many performers that presented their talents and participated in tri-Pride festivities over the 10-day tri-Pride period, which started on May 22 and culminated with a Pride March and picnic on Sunday, June 2.

Events took place all over the tri-city area and the March went from Kitchener City Hall to Victoria Park.

Among the celebrators was Leanne Mendonsa, coordinator of the Glow Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity. Mendonsa attended her first-ever Pride March this year. Although she will go to Toronto Pride as well, she believes it is important for smaller cities to celebrate Pride as well.

“I think it builds this pretty strong sense of community… I didn’t think so many people would show up, but it was a huge turnout and it’s so wild to me to realize that within this [region], there are so many people that support the queer community,” Mendonsa said.

Like Mendonsa, Ami Kemp appreciates the need Pride celebrations is smaller cities. Kemp is a graduate from the University of Guelph and, after a brief stay in Toronto, has recently moved back to Waterloo Region.

I think there should be a Pride everywhere, to be honest with you, it doesn’t matter how small — it could be a village, town, city, doesn’t matter, right, there’ll always be a percentage of the population who wants to be and show themselves and be visible,” she said.

Kemp is  President of A.S. Kemp Group Ltd. and owner of some local businesses, including Uptown Beauty Lounge and A.S. Kemp Environmental Engineering Operations and Project Management company.

Kemp has not missed any Pride events in her community in over a decade.

She also hopes to introduce safe-space stickers for her businesses, something she finds lacking in Waterloo Region.

“I’m big on education, so every little bit [counts],” Kemp said. “[The Parade], for instance, is an education for some people, some people may walk by and be like, ‘what’s that person [doing]…?’”.

In addition to being celebratory, tri-Pride is very family-friendly and inclusive.

Mendonsa said that the fun atmosphere involving people of all ages, stages, abilities and identities was a welcome surprise.

“There were so many kids around [at the Music Festival] and there were so many younglings just there, just talking to us and getting to know us, and people walking around with flags,” she said. “It was super, super family friendly. Everyone’s bringing their kids, and everyone’s bringing their pets, and it was basically just a party. It felt like you were at a little carnival like thing and everyone’s just coming around, I think it was really cozy.”

Kemp also strongly believes in the importance of inclusivity. For her, if a person is kind, they are worth her respect.

“It goes beyond LGBT+ — if you’re a human being and you’re not an asshole, you’re fine by me,” she said.

Tri-Pride events also included events over the two-week period, including a yoga session, a dance party, a comedy night, and many other opportunities for LGBT+ people and supporters to mingle.

Toronto Pride 2019 takes place on June 23rd. The Glow Centre will be marching — to join and for more information, email glow@glow.feds.ca or visit https://feds.ca/events/glow-goes-toronto-pride-2019-0.

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