Photo courtesy of Colin Simister

Photo courtesy of Colin Simister

Port Alberni teen Colin Simister is looking to bring Pride events back to town with a large barbecue this summer.

At 19 years old, Simister has decided it is time for there to be a Pride event held in Port Alberni again.

“We used to have the train ride to the Mclean Mill,” said Simister. “But there hasn’t been an event held here in two or three years.”

Pride events were organized and held by the now disbanded youth group Wilde Youth. Since the group split, nobody has stepped up to organize events for the LGBTQ community.

Simister said this year he was fed up with having to constantly travel to other Pride events and set up his own event. He also took steps to create a new group for the LGBTQ community.

“Wilde Youth was the best place I ever went,” said Simister.

“There was always a worry that people wouldn’t show up,” he added.

But Simister does not see this being a problem with this summer’s event.

“The amount of support has been huge. Port Alberni is seen as a redneck town and people would think that everyone here may be against it, but even as someone living here I was shocked at the support.”

Simister said such a large undertaking has definitely been a challenge. “I didn’t think it was going to be this big at first.”

Funding is an issue for events like these, but Simister is talking with groups he hopes will be able to help. There is also a GoFundMe account, and an account for bottle donations set up.

So far nearly $300 has been raised, but Simister hopes more people will be willing to help.

He has received some advice from people in other groups who have hosted Pride events before. “I am also surprised and happy at how many people have been coming to me offering help and advice.”

The barbecue is scheduled to take place on July 26 at Williamson Park in Port Alberni. The event is family friendly and open to all who want to come show support.

For more information, check the Port Alberni first annual Pride BBQ Facebook page. You can also donate to the GoFundMe.