Author: Bonnie Heilman and Jack Saddleback

Kasey Atcheynum first experienced the Saskatoon Pride Festival as a teenager when she made a special trip to the city with her gay cousin and a group of their friends. Having grown up in a small town where there weren’t a lot of openly gay people, that weekend trip transformed her feelings of isolation into that of inclusion by showing her that she was part of a much larger community of 2SLGBTQ+ people and allies. Arriving at the festival to find such a diverse sea of people, she realized that there was room for everyone and that her identity did not have to fit into a box.

Kasey’s experience resonates with many from small towns who feel alone and different. When no one you know is out and proud, 2SLGBTQ+ youth as well as their families can have a challenging time accepting their identities. Today, Kasey is now the parent of a Queer child. She takes joy and comfort in the fact that her child knows that she can talk to her about anything and won’t have to wait until she’s 16 or even older to discover that sense of acceptance and inclusion that so many 2SLGBTQ+ youth are struggling to find in absence of openly supportive family and community.

Coming out and coming to the realization that you are part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community can be a hard journey full of loneliness, fear, family trauma, and personal growth. TransPulse Canada reports that Trans and Non-Binary youth recently stated that 1 in 5 avoided schools in the past 5 years for fear of harassment or outing and 2 in 5 considered suicide in the past year alone. The way that families, of every kind, approach and speak of the 2SLGBTQ+ community can set this journey on an easier road.

The Saskatoon Pride Parade and Festival is the perfect weekend trip for families who want to make sure their children know without a doubt that they will be loved and accepted for who they are, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity might be. Attending the festival together can help start family conversations around diversity and acceptance and build connections with other families who are on similar journeys.

Not only is it a place to showcase values of acceptance, it’s also a tonne of fun! From Jumpy Castles and Face-painting to Hula Hoop lessons for the little ones and youth dances and drag performances for the older ones, Saskatoon Pride Parade and Festival keeps families entertained. There are also family friendly events throughout the month of June, like the Pride Family BBQ and Reading With Royalty hosted by the Saskatoon Public Library.

Beyond June, families in Saskatchewan can find support through OUTSaskatoon, which offers support for families and programs for children and youth throughout the year.