On the whole, this city has been good to its LGBTQ community. Allies in the community turn out in droves to annual Pride celebrations, which the city administration happily supports, rainbows are proudly displayed all year round, and Monday looks forward to our yearly issue dedicated to celebrating this piece of our community.
Even though it may not always be in the spotlight, there are two things that serve to focus our collective attention on Victoria’s vibrant queer community, with the glitter and roar of Pride celebrations existing in direct contrast to the widespread outrage that follows events like the recent harassment and threats suffered by patrons at local bar Paparazzi.
In recent years, Pride has been treated by some simply as another party — a celebration in the vein of Canada Day or Halloween. The public harassment of queer community members is a harsh reminder of the long and ongoing fight against oppression and bigotry that has allowed these celebrations to take place with support rather than condemnation from the broader community.
Often hidden behind the scenes, many of the people who led the charge against prejudice in our city are still here, and while drifting from the memory of the broader community their work is still very much alive in the tolerance and support offered by everyone here in The Capital.
This week is the time to ensure that our memory of these contributions to the community stays fresh. Alongside the Stonewall riots and the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act, we can remember the tiny picnics that led to Victoria’s first Pride celebrations or the creation of our city’s first openly queer-friendly bar.
Alongside famous activists like Harvey Milk, we can thank local Pride organizer Terry Froud whose efforts helped start and now maintain Victoria’s Pride Festival and who started one of our city’s first queer families when he and his partner adopted their child.
As much as Pride is a celebration, it also serves to empower the LGBTQ community and assert the right of queer folks to be who they are. This year, thank the members of our community who have dedicated their lives to creating a city where anyone can openly love who they love and celebrate without fear of censure. M