MAY 28, 2014
More Pride, less snow

I'm leaving on a jet plane as I write this. But I am coming back to Canada. I left you for awhile. Sorry for not telling you ahead of time! I am heading back home from Puerto Vallarta.

You might recall a few months ago I wrote about getting the invite to Jasper, Alta. to check out their fifth Pride celebration (jasper.jbonair.com). The local tourism board brought into town a bunch of us media types to cover the events.

I recounted how the focus at Jasper's festivities was about equality and celebration -- hence the term "gay pride" -- but the events of that weekend were more than rainbow flag waving and flouncing drag queens. It was definitely a family-friendly celebration with outdoor activities including snowshoeing and downhill skiing. The welcome reception was branded as having birthday cake and hugs... and it did. I had a beer and hugged the mayor within 30 minutes of getting into town.

In fact, if you take the G-word out of it, it was just like any other sort of winter festival you can experience in Canada. And by that I mean non-threatening and welcoming to anybody.

Things were much the same in PV, though admittedly there was a little more skin and things had a bit more of a sexualized tone at times.

But overall PV welcomed thousands of diverse visitors from all over. (In fact, I met a woman who lived two blocks from where I live now. Small world!)

I think at almost every venue and event I attended at one point I was heard saying, "Hey, Canadaaaaa" when I overheard someone talking about where they are from. Naturally with that I interrupted their conversation and verbally waved the Canadian flag with them for a few minutes.

Events in Mexico (pride.jbonair.com) consisted of a mass "commitment ceremony" on the beach, a sunset-by-candlelight event, a variety show featuring a youth performing arts group, a mens choir with local celebs, and even a beach fashion show.

Then of course you had the usual crazy bar antics -- though I didn't participate in that, much to the ridicule of the other reporters on the press trip. (I'm a 10-o'clock-in-bed kind of person.)

Having never attended any Pride events outside of Jasper and PV, it was definitely I would recommend people check out -- gay, straight, white, black, green, purple, old, young.

It's a cultural celebration that is really quite fun if you don't suffer from that pesky up-tightness so many do.

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