The Week – Not all superheroes come in spandex

Some of the city’s most laudable “Super Queeros” will be recognized for their feats in this week’s Pride parade

A team of volunteers at AIDS Vancouver Island craft Super Queero costumes for their Pride Parade float.

Not all superheroes come in spandex.

Thanks to a saucy new initiative by AIDS Vancouver Island, however, some of the city’s most laudable and out there “Super Queeros” will be recognized for their feats in this week’s Pride parade on Sun., July 8, and for the rest of the year.

“We really wanted to find a way to celebrate heroism in the community, and the fact that there are so many people out there working together — that in itself is remarkable,” says AVI’s new spokesperson Eric Berndt, noting the campaign’s partnership with Vancouver Island Persons Living with HIV/AIDS Society (VPWAS) and Victoria AIDS Resource and Community Service Society (VARCS). “Just showing up to an event that celebrates Pride and the queer community is a heroic action.”

The team at AVI came up with the campaign after AVI’s Men’s Wellness coordinator Robert Birch commented on the bravery it takes to become involved in a community. Currently, 76 countries worldwide have made homosexuality an illegal act that can bring about criminal punishment, and gays face capital punishment in five countries.

“We’re really seeing a renaissance of queer issues come about in 2012, because of the global oppression of gays and what is becoming ‘state-sponsored murder’ that makes it illegal to be gay,” says Birch. “Now, more than ever, we have to celebrate how we help community, and the joy that we can bring.”

In an effort to recognize every Super Queero in Victoria, AVI is inviting anyone in the community to don super fun garb and join the team float at Sunday’s parade, which leaves Pandora at Government around 11 a.m. For those unable to attend, you can join the ongoing conversation about people making a difference in our queer community, and post stories about the heroes that inspire you on the Super-Queeros Pride 2012 Facebook page.

The queerest of them all

Speaking of honours, exciting news that this Pride Week also marks the birth of the first-annual Victoria Q Awards, celebrating outstanding members and supporters of the queer community who seldom get proper acknowledgement for their efforts.

“No one ever gets thanked enough, and it’s all too often that little people who do a lot of work don’t get the recognition they deserve — we want to change that,” says Niko Bee, outspoken Victoria queer DJ and creator of this year’s awards. “This is our way of giving back to the whole community.”

The Q Awards event will take place Thurs., July 5, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at The Ledge Lounge (1140 Government), and is open to the public, though seating is limited to 100. Nominations were open to all community members, with categories ranging from Volunteer, Educator and Business to Royal Entertainment, and more. Monday even has to blush at receiving a shout-out for Media. The top-three nominees in each category will receive a special award — but Bee says no nominee will leave empty handed. That said, the awards received no sponsorship this year, and all work around the event has been donated.

“We have so much to boast about in our community, and the people in it are what make it such a great one to be a part of,” Bee says. “A little thank you can really go a long way.”

See the full list of nominees and winners at the Victoria’s Q Awards Facebook page.

Pink is the new yellow

No Pride Week would be complete without some rainbow love, but pink is getting an extra special emphasis this year, as the community launches a renewed version of the Victoria Pink Pages to help members of the LGBTQ community connect with organizations and businesses that are openly safe and welcoming.

“Connecting with LGBTQ-friendly organizations can be especially important for personal services like counsellors, body workers, as well as recreation and tourism. Really any place where you might feel vulnerable,” says Becky Cory, co-founder of the Victoria Pink Pages, which is replacing a similar site that went offline in December 2011.

The creators intend the website to be used by people who describe themselves as LGBTQ, two spirit, asexual, intersex, genderqueer, questioning, pansexual, kinky, polyamorous, or anything else in between. But the site is also for children, parents, partners and friends, no matter sexual orientation.

Check the pages out at VictoriaPinkPages.ca. M

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