It’s our Year of the Queer in Vancouver

With 15 Vancouver LGBT organizations celebrating milestone anniversaries, it’s time for all of us to salute their achievements

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      Sometimes the best ideas are hatched over drinks. And so it is with Year of the Queer, which is the City of Vancouver’s recently announced initiative to celebrate significant anniversaries of 15 organizations that serve the city’s LGBT community.

      It started a few months ago when the executive director of Out on Screen, Stephanie Goodwin, was sitting in the Irish Heather with the heads of two other arts organizations: SD Holman of the Queer Arts Festival and Fay Nass of the Frank Theatre Company.

      The conversation turned to the groups’ anniversaries—the 30th for Out on Screen and the 10th for the two other groups.

      In a phone interview with the Georgia Straight, Goodwin recalled that she then blurted out: “It needs to be declared the year of the queer!”

      Then it dawned on them that it was the 40th anniversary of the Vancouver Pride Society’s Pride parade.

      “So, literally, as we were drinking whisky I emailed [councillor] Tim Stevenson from my phone and said, ‘Hey, Tim, I think we should get together and talk. We have this really great idea,’ ” Goodwin recalled. “Tim was really responsive to us.”

      Stevenson told the Straight by phone that he recalled saying it was a “fabulous idea” and encouraged them to speak to the Vancouver Pride Society. After more discussions with city staff and a lot more research, it turned out that 15 organizations that serve the LGBT community are having either their 10th, 15th, 20th, 30th, 35th, or 40th anniversary.

      They include AIDS Vancouver and Little Sister’s Book & Art Emporium, which have turned 35, and Qmunity, which is 40. Groups turning 20 include Pride in Art Festival, Rainbow Refugee Society, and Monsoon—Asian Lesbians, Bisexuals and Trans in Vancouver.

      It's the 15th anniversary of the Vancouver Dyke March and the 10th anniversary for the Sher Vancouver, Zee Zee Theatre, and Health Initiatives for Men.

      On May 15, city council unanimously passed a staff recommendation for the city to launch “2018—Year of the Queer” with a proclamation and to support a one-time event at Vancouver City Hall next Wednesday (May 23). That’s when huge Pride and trans flags will be raised on the north lawn until August 19 in recognition of the anniversaries.

      “Collectively these organizations have provided 330 years of service to the city’s LGBTQ community, and continue to make significant contributions to the social, cultural, and artistic landscape of Vancouver,” a city staff report states.

      Stevenson offered credit to the staff for all the work that they’ve done to make this the Year of the Queer.

      “We will still, obviously, have the Pride parade, and we’ll still have a proclamation for Pride, as we have always done,” he said. “I can read that as the deputy mayor if Gregor [Robertson] is not able to make it.”