Good Time to be Proud

Victoria waves its banner of LGBTQ support

Ricky Hard, Stacey Ness (Organizer), Gail Dunn, Joanne Wilson and Kym Spencer pose with decorated pooches during last Sunday's Big Gay Dog Walk held on Dallas Road. This kick off to Victoria's Pride Festival sees about 400 people annually team up with their dogs on a walk to Clover Point.

Ricky Hard, Stacey Ness (Organizer), Gail Dunn, Joanne Wilson and Kym Spencer pose with decorated pooches during last Sunday's Big Gay Dog Walk held on Dallas Road. This kick off to Victoria's Pride Festival sees about 400 people annually team up with their dogs on a walk to Clover Point.

“It’s time to be Proud” — that’s the new slogan the Victoria Pride Society has come up with for this year’s Pride Week festivities, which kicked off July 1 with a drag baseball game, and continue until July 10 with the infamous parade and festival.

“Fifteen years ago, we celebrated Pride in Victoria with a picnic in Beacon Hill Park,” says Laurissa Chapple, media co-ordinator for Vic Pride. “I think, eventually, it evolved into a walk, and now we have the wonderful celebration we see today.”

For a city that prides itself on gay-friendly support, Victoria has seen its share of shame around Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgendered-Queer (LGBTQ) discrimination, including two prominent cases of gay bashings in the last year. Yet Chapple is quick to point out that, compared to many of the contenders — even other provinces in Canada, our city isn’t doing so bad.

“When you consider some of the atrocities that people around the world live with, when you hear of women getting gang raped to ‘cure’ their homosexuality, or men getting stoned to death because someone has found out they are transgendered, the international issues are terrifying,” she says. “It is a really slow process to get people to become aware of these issues that the community faces, and to really understand that this isn’t some stranger: this could be your sister, neighbour, or friend.”

Grim facts aside, Chapple says this week is about looking forward, and showing off proud accomplishments.

“It’s so important to celebrate this festival in Victoria, because we can — it’s a monument to recognize the rights we have won … and as social awareness grows, with it comes awareness to all the nuances that come with such a complex community,” she says, adding that while the lesbian, gay and bisexual groups have seen milestone markers in terms of rights, the transgendered community and other groups still have a long way to come.

“We want to ensure that part of this movement is working to include everyone, and it’s not always as definable as other social awareness projects.”

Chapple herself is living as an openly gay mother of two. She has the support of her family, and has been blessed with a welcoming community around her. She says she’s been impressed with the involvement and progression she’s seen in the Pride Festival from not only the wider community, but from media’s handle on LGBTQ issues as well. The Vic Pride board has even gone from a four-person planning team to a 10-person team in the past year.

“Certainly, there will be those people still in their own believe systems, but those opinions can change for sure. It just takes time, and persistence,” she says. “We want to make sure that people realize this event is for allies as much as it is members of the community. In order to really celebrate and promote change, we have to have everyone there to support that and see it through.”

Make the most of your Pride

THURSDAY

Dive into your Pride with a special speaker event at 12 noon at Royal Roads Quaterdeck. Lynne Risk will present “Queering the Campus,” a talk that will examine LGBTQ inclusion and equality within higher education.

Then, spin over to Christ Church Cathedral at 5:15 p.m. for the Service of Holy Eucharist, celebrating Gay Pride in the Chapel of the New Jerusalem. All are welcome to join in this celebration of human diversity—including spirituality, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. Christchurchcathedral.bc.ca.

Finish off your Thursday night with the Open Mic Night at Paparazzi Nightclub, all night. Paparazzinightclub.com.

FRIDAY

The Pride weekend begins with the Homospun Youth Pride Dance Party, 7 p.m. to midnight, at Norway House (1110 Hillside) for free. Join the youth queer community with a DJ dance party, button making, snacks, drinks and free bus tickets. Youth 18 and under only. No drugs or alcohol. Homospun.ca.

Be sure to check out the Queer City Cinema film exhibit by Gary Varro that Victoria has been talking about. The Wide Open Wide Film Fest will be showcased at Open Space Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m., $6, representing fantastical, fictional and experimental “shots” at queerdom. Local filmmakers will be in attendance. Queercitycinema.ca.

End your Friday night with the Paparazzi Priape Party Fetish Extravaganza, which promises to have more swagger than a Lady Gaga concert. 10:30 p.m. at Paparazzi. $10. Mayor Dean Fortin will guest star. Paparazzinightclub.com.

SATURDAY

It’s time for the Gaga 2 Show, featuring Dylan Davis and The Monsters, The Dragbots and special guests. 8 p.m. in the basement of the Bedford Regency Hotel, Presented by The Ledge. $10.

Don’t miss the Paparazzi Diva League, and go ga-ga over Gouda Gabor and her femme fatales in the Pride drag show spectacular. 10 p.m. at Paparazzi. $10.

Saturday night also hosts the Hush Pride Fundraiser, 9 p.m. at Hush Nightclub, featuring Kenzie Clarke and Kailem Bishop. All proceeds to the Victoria Pride Society. Victoriapridesociety.org.

SUNDAY

It’s the event we’ve all been working our way toward: The Pride Parade. Nearly 80 organizations have registered to be part of the flashy feathers, marching bands, floats and colours that will start at 12 noon at the corner of Government and Pandora. Check the website for route details. Victoriapridesociety.org.

Let the celebration come to a head at the Pride Festival, 1 p.m. in MacDonald Park. Feast your eyes on over 100 vendors, stage performers, learn more about the local LGBTQ community at Pride House, or partake in the 50-foot-long obstacle course hosted in the Kids Camp; or just kick back and enjoy the nibbles and beer garden — hosting its very own stage performances.

Don’t miss a few special events, like the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project and its notorious “Foreskin Awareness Booth,” where founder Glen Callender will demonstrate his foreskin to the public in an educational presentation “like Puppetry of the Penis, but political.” Keep your eyes peeled for a special performance from the James Bay Flash Mob, and get ready to join in.

Sunday evening closes with the Pride Day Dinner and Dance at The Ledge (victoriapridesociety.org), and the Pride Wrap-Up Party at 10 p.m. at Paparazzi. What better way to cap off this year’s festivities than with an encore performance from the Paparazzi Dance Troupe, appearances by the Diva League divas, as well as Mr. and Miss Gay Vancouver Island and Mr. and Miss Paparazzi? Hours extended until 2 a.m. M

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