Pride Month: A Celebration of Love and Inclusion

By Jiun Liao

June brought us together in the most colorful way possible. With tons of rainbow flags and events, we saw an entire community coming together to support and uplift one another. From local businesses to organizations, everyone worked together to make this Pride Month something to remember.

Shops decorated their windows, while restaurants offered special Pride-themed treats. It was a collective effort that showcased our community’s commitment to fostering an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued.

Compared to last year, the calendar was bursting with events. I sat down with some key members from Lake Country Pride—Celeste Lalumiere, Max McKenzie, and Alyssa LaPlume. They shared with me the whole lineup they managed to pull off this year.

Karaoke nights filled with laughter, brain-teasing trivia games, nature walks, yoga sessions, queer cabaret that lit up the stage, and a ton more. And of course, the main event being the Pride March on June 22nd.

I grabbed my walking shoes and joined the Pride in Nature walk at Grants Woods. Max McKenzie from Lake Country Pride teamed up with Sheena Tolland from The Couchiching Conservancy to host this amazing event.

A perfectly sunny day, not too warm and not too mosquito-y, where I was able to meet new friends, be submerged in the beauty of nature, and learn more about plants, mushrooms, and the diversity of identities and expressions in nature.

Later in the month, Mikaila and I managed to snag tickets before they sold out for Queer Cabaret hosted by the Mariposa Arts Theatre—a showcase of local 2SLGBTQ+ talent. There was poetry, singing, dancing, drag queens, and dazzling performances throughout.

Due to the overwhelming support Lake Country Pride got from the first pride march in Orillia last year, many businesses and organizations came forth this year to lend their support and make this pride month an even more inclusive one.

“We were able to say yes to a lot more opportunities this year which was amazing,” said Alyssa, “so many businesses came to us asking to host an event or help out in some way.”

“We partnered with Mariposa Arts Theatre to secure a grant from the Community Foundation of Orillia and Area. This grant gave us the necessary funding to pay for the march,” mentioned Celeste as well.

As we come to the end of celebrating Pride Month, it’s important to remember that our efforts don’t end in June. The spirit of inclusivity and acceptance is something to follow year-round. By continuing to learn and support one another, we can ensure that our community remains strong and united.

Pride Month is more than just a series of events; it’s a reflection of our values and our commitment to creating a better world for everyone. So, whether you’re a long-time resident or a visitor during the summer, together we can make a difference and show that Orillia is a city where love and acceptance thrive.