The Week — June 28: Hate crime disturbs Pride

Hate crime at Paparazzi disturbs Pride Week, though rainbow celebrations carry on; Miss Rosie Bitts censored again

Paparazzi’s Helina Kinnersley and Attila Bassett are shocked that a hate crime struck the club just before Pride Week.

Hate crime disturbs Pride

Just as Victoria is ready to bust out the rainbows, management of Paparazzi Nightclub got a startling reminder of how far Pride still has to go, when a man threw empty bullet shells at a patron outside the club.

In what VicPD is calling a hate crime, a man approached two club patrons outside the known gay bar around 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 24, to engage them in conversation before uttering homophobic comments and threats, then throwing empty shell casings at their feet. The patrons had been participants in the Mr. & Mrs. Paparazzi and Mr. & Mrs. Gay Vancouver Island pageant held at the club that night.

Sgt. Darren Laur says these occurrences are rare in Victoria, but adds VicPD does have a strategy in place should anything arise during the rest of Pride Week, which concludes at the Pride Parade on July 8. Police do not expect to see any other incidents.

“Any time you are at a liquor licensed establishment you can see things happen, but we have no doubt this was targeted due to the language used and actions,” Laur says. “Any time we see something like this, it’s always something to be taken very seriously.”

VicPD officers were unable to locate the suspect, but are looking for a white man in his 20s. Officers have been canvassing for video surveillance in the area. Paparazzi is not currently part of the city’s Bar Watch Program, and does not host video surveillance outside the club. There have been two previous altercations in 2010 and 2011 involving men who were attacked and called homophobic names after leaving the club (see “A Question of Hate” at MondayMag.com).

Paparazzi co-owner Terry Bex says, due to the recent incident and growing concerns surrounding threats club management has received on a site called TheDirty.com, the club will be looking into the cost of installing an external camera system.

“I don’t know if this is a vendetta of a disgruntled patron or a random occurrence, but we are concerned and we don’t take these things lightly,” says Bex. “We also don’t want people to be scared to come to the club, and during an important week to the community.”

Helina Kinnersley, Paparazzi CEO, says she has been in shock over the incident. The club usually has a “very predictable” clientele, she says.

“I think it’s a shame someone has chosen to do this, and I’m scared. It’s ruining everybody’s Pride,” Kinnersley says. “Right now, it’s that feeling when everything has come to a halt and you’re too upset to move forward. But we’re just going to have to push past this, somehow.”

VicPD’s hate crime liaison will be overseeing this investigation, and asks anyone with any information, including reports of “boasting” on Facebook, to call VicPD’s tip line at 250-995-7444.

You can’t dull our rainbows

For those who refuse to let the rain get in the way of their Pride, there will be plenty of opportunities to wave technicolour flags of support, all week long.

“To me, Pride Week is a time to be aware — not just about the challenges we still face, but also how lucky we are to have the rights we do have in Canada,” says Laurissa Chapple, spokesperson for Victoria Pride Society. “We can show displays of affection, marry the person we love, and yes, we’re still struggling, but we have it good when you look at the rest of the world.”

Pride week kicks off with this year’s new Art Walk & Exhibition at Madrona Gallery on Saturday, June 30, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Join the game of Drag Ball Sunday, July 1, noon at Victoria West Park. Don’t forget Poochy for the Big Gay Dog Walk July 7, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Cook and Dallas. Pride & The Word will hit the Ambrosia Event Centre July 7 at 7 p.m., with the infamous Pride Parade and Festival taking the spotlight July 8.

If you haven’t had your fill of rainbows, The Castle, The Ledge and Paparazzi will be hosting “Pride Wear Tables” each Friday and Saturday of Pride, for your colour pleasure.

And now for a little red

Speaking of pride, sad news for our favourite burlesque storyteller Miss Rosie Bitts, who found out even PG shows and liquor, apparently, don’t mix.

Bitts’ anticipated show Shimmy Town, to be performed Friday, June 29, at Svelte Cocktail Lounge in Langford, was cancelled as the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch once again told her no, since the performance would contravene provincial regulations — this time, because the show involving partial nudity would also have stage members (fully-clothed) interacting with each other and with the audience.

Not to be outdone, a heated Bitts says the show will go on: she’s modified her production to include no hands-on action, but it will now be even racier. M

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