Sensory Safe Pride and Parade Viewing 2022

Inclusivity, diversity, and dedicating space for marginalized communities are what Pride has always been about. While the annual Pride festivities in the West End are a favorite time for many, for our neuroqueer neighbours it can be a very uncomfortable atmosphere. This year we once again partnered up with our neuroqueer friends and neighbors to bring in Sensory Safe Pride Celebration to the community.
Sensory Safe Pride at Gordon House has become our annual celebration where our neuroqueer neighbours can enjoy Pride and meet with friends in a comfy environment. This year’s event activities included a conversation table, a great variety of board games, fidget toys, a reading station, Info stand with our friends from QMUNITY, and a separate sensory blocked room (with air conditioning and some extra calm activities inside). Our neighbours got to come together as a community, make some new connections, and celebrate Pride in a Sensory Friendly atmosphere.

Thanks to the King George Secondary School and West End Community Centre for providing a perfect viewing platform overlooking Denman St., we got to organize another special event this year: Sensory Safe Pride Viewing. From the balcony outside the space (located on the second floor of the West End Community Centre) participants had the perfect view of the Pride Parade going through Denman St; while the library itself allowed participants to have a shaded area and a little break from all the crowds, noise, and colours. Inside the library, participants got to enjoy refreshing cool drinks and activities such as badge making and coloring. This was a very special event that allowed a lot of our neuroqueer neighbours to stay comfortable during Pride and watch it alongside the community, yet staying far enough from all the crowds and noise that can be quite disturbing for many.

Why is it Important to have more Sensory-Safe Pride events in the community?

Anna Jackson, one of our friends we’ve partnered up with to host Sensory safe Pride, shares:

“There are a lot of queer autistics out there. We are actually more likely to identify as LGBTQ2S+ than neurotypical people. So, Pride is important to so many of us. That said, Pride is usually very loud, colorful, and crowded. Most autistic people have sensory issues that make them sensitive to loud sounds, bright colors, smells, and the general busy atmosphere of a Pride parade. So, being in a sensory non-friendly environment for a prolonged time can cause a sensory over-load in an autistic person, which in turn can lead to a melt down and over negative consequences. Thus, sensory-friendly Pride is so important to us. We want to be out and proud like everyone else, we just need a chill environment to do so sometimes.”

Some of our Participants sharing about the event and the significance dedicating space for the Sensory Safe events in the community:

“I would love to have a space where my queer identity and neurodiversity are both accepted and appreciated. I want to make friends that are both queer and neurodiverse.”

“I’m neurodivergent and queer and I would like to make more friends in comfortable environments.”

“[Sensory Safe Pride Viewing] allowed me and my friends to go to pride”
“Disability inclusion is cool”

We hope to see you all next year!