Huge crowds gather for Nanaimo’s first ever Gay Pride Parade.
For the first time in a formal parade the rainbow colours of pride were front and centre in Nanaimo today.
“We are here to say that we matter, all people matter and love wins” parade participant Greer Stewart told CHEK News.
“I think finally that not just the gay movement but the queer movement has been getting recognition in public. I mean you can see people of every stripe here. It’s great” said Pele Gouda, who also in the parade.
The colourful parade is taken in by thousands of people, some just curious onlookers but others with much more at stake and a reason to celebrate being out.
“And it’s so amazing to see the people that have turned out in support and people who are gay that are just coming out now. It’s amazing” said Mary Ross who was watching the parade.
But there was also shock and sadness along the parade route. The Pride flag at City Hall flew at half staff and everyone was thinking about the Orlando massacre that targeted gay people killing at least 50 people.
“And so it makes it even more important that we do this, where we raise the visibility, get people that know us and recognize us and realize that we’re just the same as everybody else” said parade organizer Rick Dagg of the Nanaimo Pride Society.
“And in the wake of the happenings in Florida early this morning I think that today means so much more and just that much more important to celebrate today” said another parade participant.
Crowds lined the parade route though the city’s downtown core four and five people deep in some places.