‘It’s important to be able to be yourself’: Victoria Pride parade and festival return in person


The Victoria Pride Society’s Pride festivities are back in person this weekend, bringing rainbows back to downtown.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pride Week festivities were held online, but this year will all be back in person.

“Our theme ‘Pride in You’ is a way of saying we have all been in isolation and community has been impacted by that, and now is the time to come out and really show the Pride within you and celebrate that,” said Deirdre Rowland, executive director of the Victoria Pride Society.

Festivities kicked off Thursday night with the youth Queer Prom. Events continue throughout the weekend with the Big Gay Dog Walk on Friday, and Pride Parade and Festival on Sunday.

“We are looking forward to a dynamic weekend where everyone is welcome, everyone can come out and be seen and heard,” Rowland said, adding that this year’s parade will be “magical” as there are more than 140 entries and community groups participating.

This year’s parade also features a new route that heads east over the Johnson Street Bridge and then south onto Wharf Street before turning onto Government, Belleville and Menzies streets.

According to members of the Victoria Pride Society Youth Leadership Council, having the biggest and most vibrant display of Pride on Vancouver Island in Victoria is so important as it helps youth connect with the 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.

“It’s important to be able to be yourself and be publicly Queer,” Silke Staffeldt-Jost said.

Phoenix Hutson added getting the chance to do it in such a public way is “amazing and means the world to so many in the LGBTQ communities.”

Recent threats that cancelled a local drag show at the Sashay Cafe on June 18 has brought some concerns to Pride weekend events.

Related Story: Victoria drag she cancelled after venue receives shooting threat

Rowland said the society has put increased security measures in place.

“For example, the security at the Pride Festival in the park. It’s a fully fenced-in venue and so that means anybody coming through will have to empty their water bottles,” she said.

There will also be bag checks at the festival entrance.

The Victoria Police Department said there will also be an increased police presence at the parade and CCTV cameras will be set up along the parade route.

Rowland said these measures show that more work needs to be done to ensure 2SLGBTQIA+ communities are safe.

She hopes the Pride festivities will bring people from all walks of life together in a kind way.

“Love is love and that’s the main message,” Rowland added.

CHEK will be live streaming the parade on Sunday on CHEK+, social media and for the first time on television. The parade gets underway at 11:00 a.m.

A full list of Pride 2022 events is on the Victoria Pride Society’s website.

Mackenzie Read

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