At the third annual Pride Legacy Awards on May 28, Vancouver Pride Society executive director Ray Lam talked about a man named George who was arrested for being gay.
"He was a brave man who voluntarily admitted to having consensual sex with another man in a place where coming out could have literally destroyed your life as you knew it," he told the audience in his opening speech at the Roundhouse Community Centre. "That admission, with no actual evidence, was enough for police to charge him as a dangerous sex offender. He was sentenced to what they called 'preventative detention' as an incurable homosexual, which loosely translates to life in prison. All of this, because he refused to accept that love should be a source of shame, something that we need to hide for fear of discrimination and violence."
Lam said George was not living in countries such as Russia, Uganda, or Syria. He was in Canada.
Everett George Klippert, who was later placed in a maximum security prison, was the last person to be imprisoned in Canada for homosexuality before its legalization in 1969.
Lam said he regularly receives emails from around the world from LGBT people who are being bullied, attacked, or persecuted. He used Klippert's story to illuminate the greater historical context for the evening's celebration of activism and volunteering.
"Without each other and without the elders that came before us, people in our community would not have been able to do the great things that you're going to hear about this evening," he said. "Everyone you'll hear about tonight…is a person who saw something wrong in our world and stepped up to create change, contributing to the legacy of Pride, that makes our community a beacon of hope for people around the world. My hope is that leaving here tonight, people will start asking the question, 'What is our legacy?'….Not what is my legacy—what are we going to accomplish together as a community?"
While he noted that this year's Pride theme is gender superheroes, he emphasized that all the nominees were superheroes.
The event was hosted by CBC's Fred Lee, and featured a blessing by the Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society Two-Spirit, an array of presenters, and a performance from the Vancouver Circus School.
Here are the winners, with a brief summary of their accomplishments. (A gallery of photos is vieweable by clicking on the main photo above.)
Pink: Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Awareness
Jody Jollimore has coordinated harm-reduction programs, fought to have Post-Exposure Prophylaxis made available for consensual sex and drug use, and advocates for an HPV-vaccination program for boys and men. He implemented three of the four HIV policies studied. He is the principal knowledge user or co-investigator on over 10 gay men’s health studies. He is the co-author of several peer-reviewed publications.
Red: Lifetime Achievement
Since 1969, Pat Hogan has done social justice work focused on feminist and LGBTQ+ issues. She organized the first BC Rural Conference on Violence Against Women, co-founded the Vernon Transition House, co-founded the Sounds and Furies to promote LGBTQ2+ performers and fundraise for local and global organizations, co-founded BOLD Fest, was a board member for the Vancouver North American Outgames and the Federation of Gay Games, and organized Not So Strictly Ballroom and the Menopausal Old Bitches.
Scott Fullerton has volunteered for the Vancouver Gay Volleyball Association for ten years, serving as Chair of the League for five years. He helped bring the North American Gay Volleyball Championships to Vancouver in 2004. He volunteers with the West End Slo-Pitch Association, and facilitated WESA becoming a member of the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance and a fixture of the Gay Softball World Series.
Yellow: Volunteer Extraordinaire
After twenty years in the sex trade, Don Presland became involved with the Sexual Exploitation Prevention Projects and co-founded How U Survive This Lifestyle Everyday (H.U.S.T.L.E.): Men on the Move for male sex workers. He became involved with the Under the Radar research project, a nation-wide study on LGBTQ2+ sex workers, and became the chair of Peers Vancouver. Don also volunteers with both Clean Sober & Proud and Health Initiative for Men.
Green: Safe Spaces
Ryan Hunter has been involved with the Mabel League, Screaming Weenies, Kings of Vancouver, $3 Bill, Dogwood Monarchist Society, and Lil Sisters Diorama. Ryan worked with local event producers to make women’s only events more trans-accessible, as well as starting a website for trans men and their allies. Ryan helped start SAIGE Community Food Bank that provides food and a safe space for trans and gender-variant community members. Ryan also helped develop a Community Kitchen with the Catherine White Holman Wellness Centre.
David C. Jones started LGBTQ2+ improv classes in 2004 and created the Tops & Bottoms show. He founded the Laugher Mission Society that brought professional artists to organizations working with sick and terminally ill people. In addition to teaching at the Vancouver Film School, he made the documentary "Laughing Behind Enemy Lines", about LGBTQ2+ entertainers, for the Queer History Project and has made a total of 12 short films. He frequently hosts fundraising events for non-profit organizations.
Blue: Community Leaders
Al Houston is a member and a leader of the Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society Two-Spirit. Houston conducts blessings and invocations to various events with an aim towards creating safe, welcoming environments for members of the LGBTQ2+ community to celebrate.
Caroline Doerksen is a Simon Fraser University student majoring in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. and the faculty’s representative on SFU’s student council. She brought SFU’s Out On Campus Collective to the Surrey campus and is active in the Surrey-based LGBTQ2+ youth advocacy and activist group Youth For A Change, the New West Pride Society, and the SheTalks YVR advisory committee.