Thousands of people waved rainbow flags and marched in support of the LGBTQ2S+ community in what became P.E.I’s biggest Pride parade in history on Saturday in Charlottetown.
There were 160 registrants in this year’s parade which more than doubles last year’s 70, said Pride P.E.I. communications director Mitchell MacLean.
Spectators also lined the streets with a majority of the crowd filling the stairs of the Confederation Centre on Grafton Street.
Charlottetown resident Gary Daigle has been either at or in the Pride parade for the last 15 years and noted the difference time has made.
“This is the biggest ever,” he said. “The first one, there was only a few people. People were scared to walk so they went on floats and now a lot of people are walking in pride.”
The number of people involved in the parade was a happy surprise for Summerside resident Dave Beamer, who moved to the Island a year ago from Peterborough, Ont.
He is used to going to the Pride parade in Toronto, which sees roughly 100,000 participants each year.
“I was amazed at the size of the parade here,” he said.
For Mount Albion resident Wraychel Horne, Pride also serves as a tribute to her father.
“My father came out in the last chapters of his life,” she said. “We miss him and love him and share his legacy; and the life he had to live so that we can live the lives that we have and it’s important for her to know that.”
Horne was referring to her nine-year-old daughter June who sported bright rainbow butterfly wings at the parade.
“I thought the parade was really great,” said June. “I like a lot of the costumes. It was really, really cool. I really like the fact that we can celebrate everything.”
This year’s parade marshals were local drag queens Demona Deville and Whatshername.
Whatshername, whose name out of drag is Nicholas Whalen, has dressed in drag for the last five years of the parade.
He said for him, Pride is about the children and showing them the magic of drag.
“We have an opportunity there to make that a memorable moment for them and show them why Pride is still important today,” he said. “Not just in P.E.I., but in every major city, in every country in this world.”
Capping off Pride Week was a drag show starring “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season seven contestant Ginger Minj at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown.
Minj is the first drag queen from the Emmy-winning TV show to perform in P.E.I.
“It’s good you start with a low bar because it only goes up from here,” joked Minj, who is known for her comedy. “I’m excited about that, I didn’t know that… It makes me swell up with pride.”
As a big Anne of Green Gables fan, visiting P.E.I. was already on Minj’s bucket list.
She said she was on the phone with her best friend before Saturday’s show telling her about the Island.
“I’m texting her pictures of the whole countryside, ‘Pack your bags, we’re moving here, people are so nice, I feel like Anne of Green Gables’,” said Minj.
Having a celebrity drag queen on the Island is something that is validating to Whalen.
“Ginger Minj coming here has validated the art of drag on P.E.I.,” he said.
There were 250 advance tickets sold for the drag show, which was hosted by Pride P.E.I. and Halifax-based company Club Couture.
“It’s an indication that this is something that is in demand here,” said MacLean.
MacLean’s goal is to expand on the drag show for next year’s Pride Week as well as hold more drag shows throughout the year.
Since “Drag Race,” Minj has gone on to make albums as well as appear in movies.
She is in a movie starring Jennifer Aniston called “Dumplin,” which comes out later in 2018.