Canonized historical narratives have traditionally left out queer people, places, and events and the history of local LGBT rights movements are only a few decades old.
However, there are numerous efforts to counter that erasure, censorship, oversight, and exclusion.
But just as the City of Vancouver has declared 2018 the Year of the Queer and Historica Canada released its first LGBT Heritage Minute, the launch of a new local tour will help people learn more about lesser-known history of LGBT movements and communities in Vancouver.
Walking-tour company Forbidden Vancouver specializes in tours that reveal the darker, obscure, and sometimes just plain weird parts of Vancouver, including crime, scandals, disease, and murders.
Forbidden Vancouver is teaming up with the Vancouver Pride Society to offer a new tour that will uncover and shed light on the city's history of queer activism and community-building that has sometimes been obscured, censored, ignored, or excluded.
The Really Gay History Tour will meet at the Vancouver Centre Canada Line station on West Georgia and travel across downtown to the Davie Village.
Along the way, the two-and-a-half-hour tour will make stops at locations significant to the history of LGBT rights, including Granville Street, the Vancouver Art Gallery, St. Paul's Hospital, Nelson Park, and Jim Deva Plaza near the rainbow crosswalks.
From clandestine gay bars on Granville Street to the Gay-Related Immune Deficiency crisis at St. Paul's Hospital in the 1980s (which was later identified as HIV and AIDS), the tour will include visits to sites that witnessed police raids, bookstore bombings, homosexual court trials, and protests to explore how LGBT communities faced oppression, violence, and hatred but rose up to transform Vancouver into an inclusive and queer-friendly urban centre.
Tour guide Glenn Tkach, who researched and developed the tour, explained in a news release that the tour will offer an opportunity for reflection and appreciation of how far the city has come.
“The tour covers some dark history, including the persecution of queer people by government agencies and police right into the 1990s," Tkach stated. "But overall the experience is a celebration, not just of our community’s success in achieving equality, but a celebration of the brave people who fought back against a hostile society, whatever the consequences.”
Also, there's no need to worry about losing sight of Tkach on the tour as he'll be decked out head-to-toe in pink.
“This walking tour really is really gay! I wanted to look the part. And to make a point: the fact that today a gay person can lead a walking tour right through downtown Vancouver, dressed all in pink, and publicly celebrate queer history, shows how far our city has come.”
The tour will be held at 2 p.m. on every Sunday from July to November. However, during Vancouver Pride Week, the tour will run daily at 2 p.m. from July 22 to August 4.
Tickets are $32 for adults ($28 for seniors or students) and more information is available at the Forbidden Vancouver website.