Vancouver Pride parade moves East

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      This year’s annual Pride parade and festival is moving to a new location to improve accessibility and increase capacity, according to the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS).

      The new route will start at Davie and Denman Street, follow Beach Avenue to Pacific Street, and end at Concord Community Park near Science World for the festival.

      “This new site … and the [improved] accessibility are all in efforts to have community feel a sense of ownership over their Pride, a connection to their Pride and a place where they can bring their community and feel safe and included and invited,” Allison Dunne, VPS co-executive director, told the Straight in an interview.

      After over 40 years in the West End, the Pride celebrations will culminate in a two-day long festival in False Creek on August 5 and 6. Previously, the parade route began on Robson Steet and the festival was hosted at Sunset Beach for one day only.

      According to a statement by VPS, the move was decided after community consultations explored how the event could enhance accessibility, increase capacity, and improve transportation options.

      “By moving to Concord Community Park and expanding the festival to two days, we are creating a more inclusive and accessible event that will accommodate a larger number of attendees,” Madison Holding, VPS’s other co-executive director, said in a press release.

      The move was also prompted by the VPS’s successful bid to host Canada Pride 2024, a national celebration that is expected to draw larger crowds.

      After returning from a three-year pandemic-induced hiatus in 2022, parade organizers turned to the event with an increased focus on inclusion. Last season was the first time that Pride hired a dedicated accessibility co-ordinator.

      Dunne said that a 2019 accessibility audit conducted by disability justice group Live Educate Transform Society (formerly known as Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods) was “the primary reason” for the move. “The recommendation was that we move out of Sunset Beach because of its inaccessibility,” she said.

      The inclusive logic behind the new location reflects the VPS’s newfound focus on intersectionality and diversity. Since Dunne and Holding took leadership positions at the end of last year, the organization has dedicated itself to involving and connecting with members of the LGBTQ2S+ community who have been historically excluded from Pride.

      “VPS has struggled to maintain meaningful relationships with host nations, and programming often excluded marginalized groups, especially Black trans and queer folks. We have recognized these failures and have put more funds, people and resources into sustaining the existing talents and efforts of the community, and giving them autonomous involvement in the creation of Pride,” said Dunne in a statement announcing her appointment as co-executive director.

      Last year’s Pride also had a historic first of giving full control of all onstage programming at the festival to QTBIPOC (queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, people of colour) producers. The takeover structure, which VPS said will continue this year, was implemented in an effort to diversify Pride’s programming and audiences.

      While the parade will still start in its historic West End locale, it’s expanding for the first time since 1978 beyond the traditionally gay neighbourhood where the event first started.

      “Everybody has it in their hearts and minds to include more people [in Pride] and this is a symbolic effort to prove that,” said Dunne. “We’re really not taking anything away from the West End or the Davie Street gays. We are just bringing more of what that part of the community has to offer and giving our communities an invitation to collaborate.”