A longtime Ucluelet local is putting together what he believes is Ucluelet’s first Gay Pride event.
Mike Cootes will host an ‘On the Edge of Pride’ party at the Army Navy and Airforce Veterans Club on Aug. 26.
“It is going to be full-on decorated with Pride colours, flags and various amounts of rainbow,” Cootes told the Westerly News. “It is very highly recommended that you dress as you want to dress…I want to see the full spectrum of people’s creativities, even if it’s just a little rainbow painted on their face.”
Doors will open at 10 p.m. with DJ Rabbit performing from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Cootes, who has lived in Ucluelet for 28 years said he attended Vancouver’s annual Pride Parade with a group of local LGBTQ friends roughly five years ago and “had a blast.” Unfortunately though, the full group has never been able to return due to their summertime work obligations, so Cootes decided it was time for the West Coast to have its own event that locals could attend without traveling over Sutton Pass.
“The Pride Weekend in Vancouver is always the first of August, smack dab in the middle of summer, so it’s always busy at work,” he said.
“I wanted to bring pride to Ukee and let some people in town experience that. It may not be as glamorous or fabulous [as Vancouver’s], but it would still be nice to show that Ukee has Pride for all those in this small town who are in the LGBTQ community and to show that this community can be very supportive of those who are LGBTQ because, in my experience in the many years that I’ve been here, it’s accepted but it’s not very out there.
“Not that it has to be in your face, but I feel like it has to be a bit more known that this town does support anybody of any race, gender and sexuality.”
Cootes was 16 years old when he told his father he was gay and was relieved to immediately receive his father’s support, but he waited until he was 19, roughly two years after graduating high school, to come out to the community.
He said it’s important to make local LGBTQ support more obvious so that anyone struggling with their sexuality knows they aren’t alone.
“When I did come out, everyone was supportive,” he said adding that hasn’t been the case for others.
“Everyone comes out differently. No story is the same. There are still probably people on reserves and in towns that are still battling with themselves and this is to show them that there is a community that will accept them for who they are so they could feel more comfortable in their skin.”
He said he’s been delighted with the response he’s received for his ‘On the Edge of Pride’ event so far and hopes to see West Coasters show their support by showing up.
Tickets to the event cost $10 for non-ANAF members and $5 for members. All proceeds will go back into the event, which Cootes hopes to turn into an annual calendar feature.
All entrants will receive a rainbow bracelet that reads ‘Ukee Pride. Tuff Pride.”