With a freshly painted rainbow sidewalk greeting visitors to Saanich municipal hall, the municipality officially raised the Pride Month flag in a ceremony Wednesday morning, June 1.
The significance of the event and its recognition of this special month was not lost on representatives of the Victoria Pride Society in attendance.
“It really follows (our) vision … trying to reach out and build community and build bridges with all of Greater Victoria and this I hope is going to be a model that other municipalities can use so that we can create more celebrations year round,” said society president Britton Kohn.
Acting Saanich mayor, Coun. Karen Harper said no matter where people are or how they celebrate, she encouraged to “wave your flags from downtown to Sidney, to Saanich to the West Shore and beyond.”
Deirdre Rowland, the society’s executive director, called the kickoff to Pride month “an exciting time.” Its recognition at the municipal level, she added, is extremely important for people who may not yet have come out.
“It makes it safe, it allows them to be seen and heard. It really changes lives and I think that’s what this is really all about for us. We’re trying to empower people and lift them up, we’re allowing them in this time and place to be seen, and having an event like this supports that in every way possible,” she said.
“Pride is an important part of our cultural fabric as a community and as a society, and for 2SLGBTQ folks in the community, this is a celebration. And it’s also a way to look back and see the work that’s already happened and the work that we still need to do.”
Kohn added the visibility, awareness and education created through public events such as these is a critical piece of the equity and diversity puzzle.
“We are everywhere and we are still underserved in many ways, in many communities through an intersectional lens,” they said. “So with more growth, awareness and visibility, that growth can continue and it’ll make a difference for many, many lives.”
Pride Week in Victoria starts with a youth kickoff June 23 and continues with the Big Gay Dog Walk on June 25, the Pride parade and festival June 26, the memorial dragball game July 1 and the Pride in the Word queer literary festival July 2.
For more information, visit victoriapridesociety.org/.
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