While Abbotsford flew the Pride flag for the first (and possibly last) time and Surrey never flown it at all, the City of Vancouver marked another first today: flying the trans flag for the first time.
At City Hall today (July 27), the Vancouver Pride Society and city officials gathered to celebrate the start of Vancouver Pride Week.
In his speech, Mayor Gregor Robertson provided context for the significance of the flag-raising and how local actions can have a powerful global influence.
"The leadership and activism, the discussions, [and] the dialogues that we have like this are really what advances Vancouver, keeps us on the leading edge," he told the assembled audience. "When I'm in cities like Rome or Vatican City, I even hear from mayors in cities around the world who appreciate the leadership that we're able to demonstrate in our city because of leaders in the community, because of the courage, because of the bravery, because of the heart that's here, and we have a society that is opening up and welcoming this change, which is not the case in many cities around the world where it continues to be very difficult and perilous for people with all different sexuality, gender, [and] backgrounds."
He also talked about a motion to support trans equality that was passed last week. The first of the two-part motion states that council will support the passage of provincial and federal legislation to protect transgender rights.
Secondly, it also states that council will follow the lead of the Vancouver Park Board and Vancouver Board of Education in making all civic facilities, operations, and programs safe and inclusive for trans and gender-variant people. This will include signage, washrooms, change rooms, human resources, staff policies, programming, and public and community partnerships.
"I'm very proud to say that council unanimously supported my motion last week on trans rights, and that motion will help Vancouver to be more inclusive of our transgender residents and really expresses Vancouver's full support for equal protections for trans people in all provincial and federal legislation," Robertson said. "We call upon on the provincial and federal government to ensure that all of their legislation is recognizing trans rights and equality."
After Mayor Gregor Robertson read out the official proclamation to declare Pride Week, the trans flag—with pink, blue, and white stripes—was raised on the ceremonial flag pole was raised for the first time.
Meanwhile, a large rainbow flag, spanning 24 feet by 12 feet, was raised for the first time on one of the main flag poles beside the B.C. flag.
Vancouver Pride Week festivities continue until the Vancouver Pride Parade takes place on Sunday (August 2). This will be the third year for civic status for the Vancouver Pride parade.
The mayor also affirmed the city's ongoing commitment to queer equality.
"We will continue at city hall...to support LGBTQ rights and equality until all the citizens are able to celebrate who they are and who they love," Robertson said.