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K-Pop, drag queens come out for Pride

Free festival June 18
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RAINBOW ROAD — Outloud St. Albert members Bekah Marcellus (left), Terry Soetaert, and Kelsey Robbins repaint a rainbow-themed crosswalk in front of St. Albert Place in May 2022. Outloud is hosting a Pride celebration in St. Albert June 18, 2022. OUTLOUD ST. ALBERT/Photo

Drag queens and K-pop fans will bring some sparkle to St. Albert this month as the city celebrates Pride.

June is Pride Month in Alberta, with festivals celebrating the LGBTQ community stepping out across the province. Morinville held a flag-raising and picnic during its Pride Picnic June 5, while Sturgeon County is set to hold a Pride barbeque in Cardiff Park June 14.

St. Albert’s free Pride festival is June 18 in Rotary Park (the one with the big pine-cone statue), said Bekah Marcellus, outreach worker for Outloud St. Albert. She predicted some 3,000 people would come out to what is the group’s first public Pride event since the start of the pandemic.

Pride Month is a celebration of community where people can take pride in their gender and sexual identities, Marcellus said. Pride celebrations themselves came out of the 1969 Stonewall Riots/Uprising in New York City, where a police raid on a gay club sparked a global rights movement.

The fight for LGBTQ rights continues to this day, Marcellus noted. American legislators have passed or proposed a long list of transphobic and homophobic laws in recent months, while Alberta is just three years past Bill 207 — a 2019 private member’s bill proposed by UCP MLA Dan Williams which, had it passed, could have allowed doctors to deny certain medical services to members of the LGBTQ community. Last year also saw St. Albert–Edmonton MP Michael Cooper vote against a bill to ban conversion therapy.

“Unfortunately, the border is not a wall, and those ideas come forward to us,” Marcellus said.

Big party planned

Marcellus said this year’s Pride event in St. Albert will feature a lengthy list of activities and performances, including a petting zoo, vendors’ alley, an inflatable obstacle course, food trucks, half a dozen drag kings and queens, and queer Edmonton musician Nicole Riley.

New this year will be a performance by Krescent — an Edmonton-based K-pop dance cover group. (K-pop is Korean pop music, such as that performed by Psy of Gangham Style fame and the supergroup BTS.)

Krescent formed earlier this year when a group of high-school friends decided to join Edmonton’s growing K-pop tribute community, said group manager Zoe Lau. Many happen to be LGBTQ with friends in St. Albert.

“A vast majority of the K-pop fandom is queer,” said Lau, an openly gay K-pop fan who runs a major Edmonton BTS fan page.

Part of this is due to the prominent support many K-pop performers have shown for LGBTQ fans and their use of queer elements in their shows, Lau said. K-pop also took off internationally through social media, which is a place many members of the LGBTQ community had already gathered for support.

“It’s really been a safe space for a lot of us,” Lau said.

Lau said tribute groups such as Krescent do dances set to K-pop hits, typically with the choreography of the original performers. Much like a ballet or musical, groups try to weave the songs and dances into a continuous narrative — a practice made slightly easier with K-pop, as they can focus on the tone of the songs instead of the lyrics (as most of their audience doesn’t speak Korean).

Lau said she hopes Krescent’s show will get more people interested in K-pop.

The Pride celebration runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 18. Visit the Outloud St. Albert Facebook page for details.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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