New West Pride Festival keeps the party going with greater accessibility

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      At a panel discussion at SFU in June, LGBT activist Ellen Woodsworth spoke about the importance of holding Pride events throughout the various areas of Vancouver.

      What the various suburbs are doing for LGBT issues is something the Georgia Straight also explored in our 2015 Pride issue.

      Geographic diversity of LGBT events can help to shatter ghettoization and to counter misperceptions of LGBT people being only in specific areas of the city, such as the West End or Commercial Drive. More visibility of LGBT people can help to expose more people to everyday LGBT presence so that it's not just "over there".

      Nanaimo held its first Pride parade on June 12 while Surrey held its inaugural Pride march on June 26.

      Meanwhile, in the wake of Vancouver's Pride Week, New Westminster is keeping the party going with the seventh year of its own Pride festivities.

      Artist Kimmortal is in this year's lineup at New West Pride.

      The New West Pride Festival runs from Saturday (August 6) to the following Saturday (August 13).

      Things kick off with New West Pride Night at the Brooklyn Bar (250 Columbia Street, New Westminster) on Saturday (August 6) from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

      The rainbow flag-raising ceremony will be held at New Westminster City Hall (511 Royal Avenue, New Westminster) at 12 p.m. on Monday (August 8).

      There are also games, storytelling, visual and performing arts, a drag show, karaoke, a collective tie-dye, an outdoor screening of Labyrinth, a bake-off, and more.

      On the educational side of things, Health Initiative for Men is providing information about pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP), which reduce chances for HIV infection, on Wednesday (August 10) from 6 to 8 p.m. at 40 Begbie Street.

      The week culminates in the Columbia Street Party, which runs from 3 to 8 p.m. on August 13, along Columbia Street from Begbie Street to 4th Street.

      Quayside Voices

      There'll be performances by Michael Fraser, Kimmortal, Mz Adrien, Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party, Rainbow Concert Band, VanDeca, the Drag Choir Show, the Lions Gate Chorus, and Quayside Voices.

      This year, the New West Pride Society has launched an initiative to make the festival accessible for all attendees, which includes conducting an accessibility audit of all venues and sites (to be shared with other businesses and event organizers) with information available on their website.

      Some accessibility improvements for this year include American Sign Language translators on the Columbia Street Party's two stages, wheelchair and priority seating, accessible bathrooms, and gender-neutral bathroom signage.

      For full details and more information about the festival, visit the New West Pride website.