• You & Me BC

Without Pride, Things Just Weren't The Same


With hate on the rise, Pride is needed more than ever


You & Me BC

August 14th, 2022


If one stumbled into Vancouver’s West End on the afternoon of Sunday, July 31st, they would inevitably find themselves lost in a sea of colours, sounds, and glittering outfits.


It was loud, it was wondrous, and it was unmistakably Pride – back on the streets in Vancouver and many parts of the country for the first time in three years.


It is often said that Pride is political, and that is true. Where Pride differs from other more traditional political events through its affirmative, all-encompassing culture of laughter, joy, and festivity.


It turns what is considered normal on its head, transforming the private and intimate into the public, while bringing people together in a way nearly impossible to observe elsewhere.


One could witness fresh-faced teenagers attending their first Pride, making the trek to the Sunset Beach end point alongside the warriors who had spent decades laying the foundation for a world in which all of this was possible.


Some walked, some rolled; feet tapped, hands waved, and lips curved upwards in smiles. Every movement was a protest against passivity, and parade goers drew upon a seemingly endless well of energy to endure heat that would have been overwhelming on any other day.


Within just a few blocks one could meet newcomer families from India, visitors from Eastern Europe, Brazil, the UK, and Mexico, and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestors called the parade lands home long before any settler arrived.


And after speaking with some of them, you could also better appreciate the festivities.


HATE STILL OUT THERE


In Poland, Russia, and Latvia for example, the leading religious and political authorities condemn Pride and label it as morally corrupt.


In some parts of the world parade goers are jeered and spat on, not by a few bad apples, but by counter-protestors who outnumber them.


In other parts, the homophobia and transphobia is so great that such a public expression is not possible at all –homosexuality is still illegal in 70 countries, and punishable by death in 11.


And while the situation is much brighter than this in Canada, we have problems of our own, right in our own backyard.


A year and a half ago a group of hate preachers, led by the ironically named Dorre Love, spent weeks blaring anti-gay messages throughout the West End, culminating in an attack which left a man hospitalized.


Last year, a man on Toronto Island was nearly beaten to death in a homophobic assault, and just a few months ago a Vancouver Island University student was left with a bloodied, black eye after being struck in an alleged homophobic assault for which a 19-year-old is now being charged.

And incidents of hate based on sexual orientation are on the rise in B.C. and throughout Canada, with reports showing they increased by as much as 64 percent in 2021.


This does not include cases in which a victim was too afraid or ashamed to step forward, nor does it account for the bullying that is status quo in schools.


With hate like this on the rise, and with so many people having been isolated over the past few years, it was crucial to have Pride back.


Pride is many things—a recognition of past injustices, a celebration of progress, and an appreciation of the joy one can have with others in the here and now.


It is also a protest, and a statement about the need to keep fighting. The boundless energy which helps make the event so special can and must be applied to eliminating the hate which is still out there and seeping back into society, not only based on sexual orientation, but also race, ethnicity, and gender.


Three years may not seem like a long-time, but it was too long to go without Pride. The love, the energy, the unconditional acceptance, and the continued push for better is just what we needed and will continue to need going forward.

 

To get in touch with Spencer van Vloten, editor of You & Me BC, please send an email to editor@youandmebc.ca