ONE OF OTTAWA’S most colourful parades took place on Aug. 25, wrapping up the weeklong Capital Pride Festival. For the first time in nearly a decade, the parade route stretched down Bank Street, through Ottawa’s gay village, and ended at Marion Dewar Plaza at City Hall.

The parade was one of 75 events taking place across the city during the festival. Ranging from Sex Toys for Queers—a workshop promoting safe and scandalous ways to use sex toys—to the official flag-raising ceremony during which Mayor Jim Watson read the official proclamation of Capital Pride Week and raised the rainbow flag at City Hall.

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) holds its open Campus Pride Week in March, but SFUO vp equity Nicole Desnoyers said it’s nice to have the U of O represented at a community-wide parade with a bigger budget.

“The pride parade is very unique,” she said. “It was great seeing Gee-Gees march with the parade.”

Gillian Holloway, a recent U of O graduate, noticed that this year’s downtown atmosphere seemed more vibrant than in past years.

“I’ve been able to interact with people celebrating and the energy has been contagious,” Holloway said.

For U of O students, Capital Pride isn’t the only time of year to celebrate their sexuality. The SFUO Pride Centre holds weekly events to encourage and promote their cause, not only within the LGBTQ campus community, but also for all LGBTQ allies.

The Pride Centre hosts social events throughout the week during the school year, including discussion groups, movie nights, and various socials.

The centre also has a drop-in program to encourage students of all sexual orientations and identities to come and see what they have to offer. There are snacks, board games, and opportunities to discuss personal experiences.

Outside of the Centre’s social aspects, there is also the Buddy Up With Pride program. In the program, a mentor partners with individuals looking for guidance or advice about their sexuality, or people looking for a liaison in the LGBTQ community. The Buddy Up With Pride program is 100 per cent confidential and free.