Festive Victoria Pride Parade marches through downtown and has extra meaning after Orlando tragedy less than one month ago.
Victoria pride stands with solidarity.
The pride parade began in 1993 and continues to grow, up 20 entries of groups and floats from last year, as the L-G-B-T-Q community and its allies march together through downtown Victoria.
“So we’re at about 110 this year. i do believe, and i participated in the parade in ’93, i do believe there were 25 entries,” says Victoria Pride Society President David Tillson.
With the pageantry of a festival, all participants shared the message of acceptance for everyone.
“Honestly i think we’re on the right path but it’s still a long ways to go.”
“We’re absolutely all equal. Whatever colour, whatever sexual orientation. There’s nothing unequal about any of us.
“Everybody should be able to do whatever they want. As long as they don’t affect you, which they don’t, everybody should be happy.”
Thousands of people took part, many in colourful attire, others with much less on.
Victoria Pride has extra meaning for this year’s edition. With the murders of 49 people inside a gay nightclub in orlando nearly a month ago to the day, the cries for inclusion are louder.
“I just spoke with a woman and she was in tears again saying thank-you for your speech the day after orlando tragedy, so it’s still very raw emotions for some people,” says Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
“We are inclusive and we are here and we’re celebrating, but i mean, we also have to remember what happened in Orlando and remember that there’s still a fight to continue,” added one of the parade dancers.
The Victoria Pride Society says the biggest hurdle to that fight is getting government at the provincial and federal levels to act on gender inclusive laws. Spreading the message of inclusion, however, starts with the kids.
“I’ve gotten a letter after pride from a 15-year-old girl from Courtney who just wrote to me and said she’s never felt so happy and wonderful and included in her life, last year, and that just makes me sit down and cry,” said Tillson
One woman watching the parade with her children added, “there’s so much diversity and it’s come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go and it’s good to teach them to love everyone.”
And it’s love that prevailed today.