WinterPRIDE parade brings rainbows to Whistler
When you think of Pride parades, what do you usually think of?
Skis, snowboards, and snowgear probably aren't the first things to come to mind.
Yet that's what the case is for Whistler's WinterPride parade. The third annual rainbow-decorated march was held on January 31 during the ski resort's LGBT ski week (as officially proclaimed by Whistler's mayor the day before).
Unlike other parades, this one started with skiers skiing down the slopes with massive rainbow flags. The small but lively contingent later carried a rainbow banner through the village to the main square and then on to the Conference Centre, all led by the newly crowned Mr. Gay Canada, Christepher Wee of Vancouver.
What's more, the presence of international visitors, who snapped pictures as the parade marched by, underlines the benefit of staging Pride parades in destinations where visitors may come from countries with different levels of social acceptance and visibility of or rights for LGBT people, or where Pride parades may not even exist.
Yet even in a liberal, socially progressive city like Vancouver which has a Pride parade and where LGBT people are generally accepted and have rights, ongoing gaybashings, bullying, and both overt and systemic discrimination, including a recent assault against a lesbian couple and a man rejected for tenancy for being gay, continue to be a problem.
The timing of the parade, just prior to the start of the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 7, is particularly fitting: Whistler was the first location of an Olympic Pride House when the Winter Olympics were held there in 2010.
With no Pride House at the Sochi games, thanks to Russia's antigay legislation, the parade served as a reminder of the ongoing need to address homophobia on and off the field, and in numerous arenas, whether in sport or otherwise.
Happy Pride to all!