For many decades, poets and writers were among the lone voices speaking out about what it was like to live as an LGBTQ person in a predominately straight society.
In Victoria and elsewhere, times have changed and there is far more acceptance and understanding of LGBTQ communities as part of the greater makeup of society. And the writers and poets continue to voice their thoughts on the topic, perhaps more eloquently and openly than ever.
During Victoria Pride Week, that work is in the spotlight at the annual Pride in the Word event, held this year on July 7 at the Ambrosia Conference Centre. This showcase of some of the proudest and most talented writers from Victoria and across the country is billed as one of Canada’s largest Pride festival literary events.
The evening’s host, author and poet Billeh Nickerson, remembers doing a Pride coffee house more than 20 years ago in the city. Along with Pride in the Word co-founder David Tillson, he has overseen its evolution into a more high-profile celebration of literature.
“It’s my favourite event of the year,” says Nickerson, who will also do a reading. “There’s such a wonderful energy in the crowd and it’s such a supportive space.”
The list of accomplished writers and poets who will read also includes Governor General’s Literary Award poetry winner Arleen Pare and GG nominee Anne Fleming; past winners of the Writer’s Trust of Canada’s Dayne Ogilvie Prize for emerging LGBTQ writers, Kai Cheng Thom (2017) and Amber Dawn (2012), and Monique Gray Smith, winner of the 2014 Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature.
The all-ages event routinely draws upwards of 200 people, Nickerson says.
“You don’t have to be queer or trans to enjoy this event; anywhere you are on the sexuality spectrum.”
Tickets are $13, doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the event starting at 7. The Centre is at 638 Fisgard St.