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Pride and prejudice: Wortley Pride event learning from controversy during inaugural event

The second annual Wortley Pride Festival takes place June 10 on the Green in Wortley Village.

During the inaugural Wortley Pride event in 2022, a disruption occurred that led to charges against a London, Ont. man for causing a disturbance and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public.

The altercation between Richard Sillers and festival goers was off putting for organizers but they have learned from that experience in preparation for Saturday’s event.

“We weren't prepared at all for any protester,” said President Kathy Bell-Copeland. “We didn't believe that there would be any in the heart of Wortley Village from that we've learned and we've pre planned and we have taken the steps to make sure that everyone is going to be safe.”

The event has been the focus of social media posts this week, saying a large group will be on hand to protest the drag story time, similar to a protest that occurred in April in Parkhill, Ont.

Galaxy Rose, the performer who will be reading to the kids said it has weighed on their mind.

“For me like it's always in the back of my mind. Like maybe this is the event that violence happens. But I have to push that aside because at the end of the day, it's for the kids and those are the ones that that we're creating these spaces for,” Rose said.

A man was arrested and charged with criminal offences after what London Police call a “large physical disturbance” during the Wortley Pride Festival on July 16, 2022. (Source: Jason Plant)

But as the saying goes, the show must go on, and Rose doesn't believe the protestors will be able to dampen the spirit of the event.

“Because when you're showing up in a big gown, like lots of colors, their eyes lit up, right? And they can you can see that it means something to them and so I always power through just for them,” they said.

The London Police Service will also be on hand.

“London police will be in the area throughout the day to ensure a safe and inclusive event,” said Const. Sandasha Bough.

Bell-Copeland hopes those who come to the event will get to enjoy it and ignore any protestors that do show up.

“This event is meant to be about love and acceptance and being who you are and your authentic self,” she said.

Festivities start at 11 a.m. at the Green in Wortley Road and runs through the afternoon. Face painting, a photo booth, an all ages drag show, and drag story time are just some of the events taking place. Top Stories

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