A swagger-filled Mz. Vicki Star-DeNight sits, casually shirtless, at his kitchen table taking puffs on a cigarette balanced between fingers with magenta-painted nails. He's attended Halifax Pride for 21 years, witnessing the parade's evolution from radical marches to the gilded affair it is today.
"Once upon a time, before we had our rights, a lot of gay pride parades sounded more like a demonstration because we didn't have equality. And that's not Pride---Pride is about celebrating, happiness, joy, knowing that we're all free of bondage, discrimination and whatever else is out there---hopefully."
In this year's parade, Star-DeNight will be marching as the newly crowned Empress 11 for the Imperial Sovereign Court of Atlantic Nova Scotia, a charitable court of queers that began as camp pageant in San Francisco in the 1960s. This is Star-DeNight's second reign as Empress, once holding the title nine years ago. "I've seen it progress from being a really small parade to being a big, huge success," he says. "I enjoy that it brings people together, it brings charities together, it's like a meet and greet."
Star-DeNight kicked off Pride at the flag-raising with mayor Peter Kelly. He doesn't take issue with Toronto mayor Rob Ford's decision not to march in the Pride parade or attend the flag-raising, both long-standing mayoral traditions.
"I'm sure he has a busy schedule," Star-DeNight says with a grin. "Because Pride is political---sometimes those things can happen---it's not right, but it's not wrong either."
"For me celebrating Pride means that I have freedom to go out there and celebrate with all my friends and the community and showing that we're strong and we're not going away." --Mairin Prentiss