Part of being Mr. Gay Canada 2019 of course means attending Pride festivals in Canada. And I was excited to head to the middle of the country to check out some of Winnipeg’s Pride Week and also see what’s new in Winnipeg since I was last there… 17 years ago! If you’re not familiar with the city it’s the largest one in Manitoba and that province’s capital. There are nearly a million people who call Winnipeg home so it’s not really a small city, even though it kind of feels that way with the friendly people and relaxed atmosphere. People often just think about cold winters when they think of Winnipeg, and it’s true that it does get quite chilly there late/early into the year, but in the spring and summer it’s great weather for exploring and, as it turns out, for celebrating the LGBTQ community!
I wasn’t able to go to Winnipeg during their main Pride weekend when the parade and festival were taking place, but there was still a lot going on earlier in the week, and a lot to see and do outside of Pride as well. As soon as I landed I went straight from the airport to brunch at a restaurant hosted by drag queens and then right from there to a pride block party that was happening in a park. The drag queens acknowledged me in their show at brunch and the organizers of the block party had me say a few words on stage so I felt very welcomed and like I was a part of their Pride celebrations right from the start! I shared some of that and the many other fun things I got up to in real time through my Instagram stories, which I’ve put together into a video here since they disappeared after 24 hours:
Check out some of the photos I shared from the trip on my Instagram account as well:
Thank you to Travel Manitoba and Tourism Winnipeg for helping to coordinate my trip! They made sure I knew about things like the LGBTQ-owned businesses I got to visit. And speaking of which, those business owners told me that they found the community to be a really supportive one for their companies. They ironically all had been previously living in Vancouver, but decided to move back to their hometown to start up their new business venture because they found it more feasible to do there, both in terms of costs and community support. I was impressed by both that and the fact that by the end of my first day I already felt like I had friends there… that’s all a pretty good indication of the type of people who live there!
While I was in town I also shot an extra video for my YouTube channel as I walked through the Exchange District, which is actually a National Historic Site. There’s some really cool architecture in that neighbourhood so I figured it’d make for a good background as I shared some weird/unusual facts about myself! You can see that video here:
And that was my trip to Winnipeg, Manitoba! I was impressed by just how gay-friendly of a destination it actually was with the human rights museum (and rainbow crosswalk out front), the many Pride events that were taking place over the week, and the proudly LGBTQ-owned businesses. I felt quite comfortable being myself there and people even seemed to know about me more there than most other places I visit… someone yelled “Mr. Gay Canada!” to me while I was walking down the street, another guy came up to me at the rooftop party to ask if I was the guy from TV, and yet another guy asked if he could have his photo taken with me when I was just outside of The Forks… thanks for making me feel so special Winnipeg!
A new episode bringing you along with me on my journey as Mr. Gay Canada is uploaded every week or two, along with other videos in between, so be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more and turn on the notifications (just click on the bell icon after clicking on the Subscribe button) to be alerted as soon as my new videos go live!