Pride and the Victoria Pride Festival, which on July 7 will celebrate 25 years in the city, began as a protest, recalls Victoria Pride Society president and festival co-ordinator David Tillson.
“There are some people who still believe that Pride should be a protest,” he says. “Unfortunately, when you get a permit and invite the mayor, it’s hard to make it a protest … ultimately it’s a celebration of community.”
The City of Victoria and Mayor Lisa Helps are big supporters of Pride Week and the Society’s related events. Once again the Pride, Transgender, Non-Binary, Genderqueer, and 2-Spirit flags will be raised at City Hall to mark the start to Pride Week, this time on Friday, June 28 at 11:15 a.m. Those flags get flown in unison until July 5, after which they will be flown on the City’s float in the Pride Parade on July 7.
Helps is also a regular participant in the impromptu and sometimes outrageous July 1 Memorial Dragball game, starting at noon at Vic West Park. Hosted by Tillson and Emcee Tash, the game sees participants switch gender roles to play for the Kings and the Queens, resulting in some great entertainment for the hundreds of spectators who always attend.
Other events leading up the festival finale include the Big Gay Dog Walk July 5 (6 p.m.) at the Dallas Road dog park area, and the much anticipated Pride in the Word literary night July 6 at the Ambrosia Conference Centre. Find your tickets ($15) in advance on eventbrite.ca or at the door.
The annual Pride Parade, actually celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, but this time around the festival and the ever-popular Dragball game will hit that milestone. This year’s parade starts at 11 a.m., features 125 entries and is once again expected to draw thousands of spectators to the route along Government Street from Pandora Avenue to Belleville Street, and through James Bay to McDonald Park, where the festival will be in progress.
New this year is the Royal B.C. Museum’s Night Shift: Pride event, which offers adults a chance to mingle, enjoy food and beverages, and hear about the history of the transgender movement and the evolution of LGBTQ+ life in Victoria and around the province.