LGBT in B.C.: Pender Island to launch its first Pride parade and festival

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      In previous decades, many LGBT people across British Columbia felt that they had no choice but leave their homes and relocate from small towns or rural areas to urban centres like Victoria or Vancouver where queer communities were established. That was particularly the case for those who were rejected from their communities or own families.

      What the increase in the number of rainbow crosswalks and Pride celebrations throughout B.C. does is reinforce and convey several important messages.

      It lets rural or smalltown B.C. residents know that it’s okay for them to be who they are while remaining where they are, thereby helping them to remain with and contribute to their communities. And it simultaneously visibly demonstrates that homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination are unacceptable.

      Pender Island, B.C.
      davemantel/Getty Images

      It also lets urban B.C. residents know that they are welcome as visitors or potential new residents in those areas for those seeking life outside large cities. And it can help to counteract any stereotypes or misconceptions about rural locations being less accepting than urban centres.

      Pride celebrations across the province can also provide travel opportunities for summer trips across B.C., particularly for those who are interested in experiencing grassroots or smaller celebrations (or meeting that special someone).

      For example, Hudson’s Hope held its first Pride celebration on July 9, hosted by the District of Hudson's Hope, the Hudson's Hope Farmers Market, the B.C. Ambulance Service, Hudons's Hope RCMP, and the Hudson’s Hope Fire Rescue—and it even included Bollywood dancing.

      Pender Island, B.C.
      Spinkle/Getty Images

      Now one of the Southern Gulf Islands is about to join the Pride party train with its inaugural event.

      The first Pender Island Pride Festival will be held from August 15 to 17.

      Organizers stated in a news release that the festival will have a special focus on supporting LGBT youth and promote inclusion and acceptance—while, of course, having a great deal of fun.

      Sea Star Estates Farm and Vineyards on Pender Island, B.C.
      Craig Takeuchi

      The three-day event will include a sign-making gathering, a movie screening of the 1994 Australian drag classic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and a social mixer hosted by Sea Star Estates Farm and Vineyards.

      To top things off, there’ll be a parade starting at 11:30 a.m. on August 17.

      The parade will be followed by a family-friendly celebration at the Driftwood Centre plaza featuring speakers, musicians, and more.

      Full details are available online.