Mike Cootes is getting his flags ready to fly at this Friday’s Edge of Pride event in Ucluelet. (Photo courtesy of Mike Cootes)

Ukee set for second annual Gay Pride event

“It’s going to be a blast.”

Ucluelet’s inclusive spirit will be celebrated, and reinforced, this Friday as the community cheers in its second annual Edge of Pride event.

“It’s to bring the feeling of acceptance to people who are LGBTQ. Even though Ukee already has that established, it’s nice to have that,” said 31 year-old lifelong West Coaster Mike Cootes who launched the inaugural event last year.

“I’d say we’re very proud and this is to let people who are still finding themselves know that there is an environment for them…People can struggle, even if they have come to terms with it. There’s a lot of people who just don’t come out [as LGBTQ]. To each their own, but this is to let them know that there is an accepting community for them.”

Cootes said he created Edge of Pride because he had enjoyed Gay Pride events in Vancouver and wanted to bring that feeling home so that locals wouldn’t have to travel out of town to experience it.

“Me and my friends went to the Vancouver Pride nearly annually but, because we all work in different locations, we couldn’t always get the same time off,” he said. “So, rather than go to Pride, I’m bringing Pride to Ukee.”

This year’s event will feature Ucluelet’s first-ever Pride Walk, which will start at the ANAF at 6 p.m. Everyone is welcome to join the celebratory walk around town, which Cootes said will help showcase Ucluelet’s inclusive culture.

“It’s the first walk and people were really asking for it and I’m happy to bring that for them,” he said. “One of the important things about a Pride Walk is us being seen as a whole and for the town and for people visiting to see that we have that kind of culture, so that people know we have open acceptance.”

Following the walk, a party will be held at the ANAF starting at 10 p.m. and kicking off with a lip-synching contest, which will feature contestants battling to see who can infuse the most energy into their audience. After the contest, the party will continue until 1 a.m. with DJ Rabbit providing an energetic ambience.

“Come out and support the local scene…Show your support for neighbours, friends, family and, who knows, maybe your kids,” Cootes said. “It’s going to be a blast.”

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