In my initial application for the Saskatchewanderer, I’m quoted as saying that, “if I were granted this position I would build my term on a platform of diversity.” I genuinely cite this as a quote because my pre-wanderer existence feels like an entirely different life. It’s so disorienting to think that that was merely 6 months ago. In retrospect, this statement comes off a bit overly-diplomatic considering the fact that this is essentially a digital marketing position. That said, it was and is a driving force in everything I do as the Wanderer.
I left Saskatchewan in 2010 to pursue my post-secondary education. This departure took me on a long-winded tour of Canada’s larger metropolitan centers (Victora, Vancouver, and Toronto respectively) before ending up back where I started nearly a decade later. Being an openly gay man, my coming-out story is rather textbook. I left teenage life in my home province, started fresh in a community full of strangers and opened up about my sexuality within months. I don’t really know why this was my plan of attack. My family and friends are incredibly supportive and I knew that they would be, even back then.
In my absence, I admittedly subscribed to the exact stigma that I’m currently striving to eliminate: that Saskatchewan isn’t a conducive community for members of the queer community to thrive in. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Granted the fact that there has been a universal growth in the acceptance of LGBTQ people over the past decade, I’m currently closer to the queer community than ever before...right here in little ol’ Saskatchewan.
Although cities like Toronto and Vancouver may have a more blatant appeal to this group from a nightlife and entertainment perspective - the sense of unity is far less palpable. There is a much more intimate social circle in Saskatchewan that hasn’t lost sight of what “Pride” truly is.
I’ve been to countless, large-scale Pride celebrations across North America. I even lived in the downtown core of Toronto when they hosted World Pride in 2012. It goes without saying that these events facilitated grandiose parades and exorbitant parties...but in all of the corporate hustle and bustle, it was easy to lose sight of what I was celebrating. When I was participating in some of Saskatchewan's Pride events in June, on the other hand, I was promptly reminded. Our LGBTQ2S community along with many loving allies brandish their pride on their shoulders in a way I’ve never seen before. For that reason, celebrating in Saskatchewan trumps any Pride I’ve previously experienced, regardless of budget, turn-out or celebrity endorsement. The foundation of Pride is the community - and Saskatchewan's community - queer or otherwise, is a force to be reckoned with.
This term marks my first time living as my authentic self in my home province. I’m overwhelmed with how easy this transition was thanks to the open arms of Saskatchewans LGBTQ2S community.
Because Regina Pride and the Beary Okemasis Two-Spirit PowWow fell on the same day, all footage of Regina's festivities were generously donated by Queen City Pride and Strategy Lab.