Unity, Diversity, and Recognition: Vancouver Pride 2016

Today was Vancouver Pride, and let’s just say seeing how 2016 is going so far, I needed a break. So much lunacy it seems is occurring all at once … So, sit back, relax, and get ready for some uplifting tips for Pride for yourself and some thoughts I had about this festive day! (*Use the tips next year — I do not know why Vancouver Pride occurs so late in the season! Weather, maybe?)

Vancouver Pride (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)
Would Pride be the same without floats like this? (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)
Some show less skin (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

Dressed in a get up my mother probably will bring up to me later, I ventured from UBC to downtown for all the fun: parades, parties, and awareness events!

The parade was the culmination of a week of events in the city. It was the 37th annual parade to date here. It lasted from 12pm to 5pm and even featured Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. Sadly, I did not get to see him.

Tip #1: Bring a small backpack. You will get a lot of free merchandise especially if you are in the front by the parade. Also, pack water! Often, paraders will hand some bottles out to onlookers, but be hydration autonomous.

The names and faces of the 49 murdered at Pulse in Orlando we displayed by marchers.
(Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)
Gay hockey! Yay Canada! (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)
Mounties (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

Tip #2: Depending on what you are wearing, be sure to bring sunscreen. It sounds obvious, but you never know what you will forget leaving in a rush.

LGBT2-SQQA is an acronym for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, queer, questioning, and ally. I know it is long, and I am slowing incorporating it into my everyday vocabulary from my usually “LGBT+”.

For some people, the discussion stops here – it’s too hard to pronounce, why all of these, what about straight people etc. And for this reason, I love language. The pragmatics of a word can do so much in a second to affect a person. As for me, I am always learning. A few more letters, I have to learn the IPA. No sweat.

In Canada, the two-spirit is often added, recognizing this indigenous perspective. Pan-tribal terms are not usually appropriate or encouraged, but two-spirit is more widely accepted.

However, the term has different weight with different communities, so the significance depends on from which nation and community the identifier hails. This is important to remember especially being on unceded territories of Coast Salish peoples. First Nations are not all alike.

People often think they are all alike, but that is a big misconception. (I am just coming off of a First Nations and Endangered Languages (FNEL) course and am still in the glow of indigenous mindsets and decolonization, which is slowly becoming my normal attitude!)

For this reason, I will not explain who is two-spirit in this post. This topic deserves at minimum a few posts to discuss this interesting subject of identity and culture.

Tip #3: Wear what you feel comfortable with, but keep in mind children often are at Pride too. But, then again, the Pride paraders aren’t always clothed as much either. Be smart and avoid obvious cultural garb that isn’t yours. That sounds like good advice.

(Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)
(Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)
(Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

One aspect of Vancouver Pride I enjoyed learning about was the alternative Pride celebrations and events that addressed different less talked about aspects of LGBT2-SQQA life like homophobia in the dance hall scene and body image. These are parts of cultures and realities that people do not often realize: these nuanced and niche ways homophobia and misogyny can infiltrate domains that are meant to be safe and joyous. There is more work to do, and these types of events are steps toward a more honest, equitable, and supportive community.

Tip #4: Go early! Pride parades can last awhile, but if you want a good view, go early and camp out a bit. Bring some cover too.

Another aspect that seems all too important to overlook is race. Myself and many other queer POC feel we often express certain points about fetishization, erasure, and appropriation that go just as regularly unheard. By whom one may ask? Let’s just say, by those who think they are outside this equation, who fail to recognize heritage and history, and those who may start to find this post uncomfortable.

(Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)
Trojan condoms (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)
(Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

Vancouver Pride did have some controversy this year. Following the Black Lives Matter’s sit-in protest in Toronto Pride, the Vancouver chapter expressed similar sentiments to the Vancouver police weeks prior to today. Let’s just say feelings have been mixed.

Personally, and those who are reading this should know for the future, Expat-terns unapologetically supports Black Lives Matter and firmly stands in solidarity with it. And, BLM did have a very interesting idea for police in Vancouver as well. Instead of having a police float, they suggested having a public service float in which police would be included.

Tip #5: Better costumes get more attention thus more merchandise. Stand out for the handouts! A little girl in front of us made bank with her inflatable rainbow wings.  

Pride is political (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

This sounds like a win-win to me. One criticism I have for many Pride celebrations especially in North America is their corporatization and commercialization.

I want to see individuals, not allied businesses, and instead more queer owned and managed establishments highlighted and promoted during Pride. Allies are great, but the movement and space is for queerness first. In minimizing non-queer institutions’ presences at Pride, I think it can make more room for the people Pride is about: the people who started it. And, I would think true allies would recognize this sentiment and act accordingly.

Tip #6: Don’t fall in love with the gogo dancers. They are a myth.

Celebrities Nightclub (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)
YVR (Vancouver International Airport) (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)
Telus (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

Tip #7: Always have a game plan – parade, drinking, clubbing – Pride is high energy, and you want to be organized to enjoy it.

Although yes, I have been drinking today, yes, I am swept up in emotion and jubilation, and yes, I am also sleep deprived, I hope you have realized my main point for this special post (I admit I jumped from subject to subject a lot): it is important to stay conscious and look at institutions, groups, and people with many different lenses and through many different perspectives, prioritizing the marginalized voices always.

That is why I love Pride: it brings together this community, diverse but united.

We are the fringes that weave together to be stronger. - PintsizedPioneer

This post is much more “political” than most of my other posts. I do not expect the majority of my posts to be like this one, especially with the inconsistent jumpiness, but as a peer remarked as we parted ways after FNEL, “Pride is political.”

And, all I can say is – of course! Fuck yeah it is. Let’s keep it that way, glitter and all.

Stay tuned for more travel tips, photography, and BC life! We are also off to Japan in the fall. I know, right? Surprise! Travel safe and often.