Underneath the bright and outrageous party it has become, LGBT Pride has a deep and dark history. Pride is about what the LGBT community has achieved, not only for itself, but for everyone, and what was done over several decades should be justly admired.
Powell River’s LGBT community will host three events this weekend: a ribbon-tying memorial on Friday night, a drag show on Saturday night and a screening of Grease on Sunday afternoon.
The memorial is the real story of Pride. It honours those who were on the front lines, some of whom were killed because of being gay, and started the long and difficult war for basic human rights.
A long time ago, in a village far, far away, an uprising against oppression took place. On June 28, 1969, New York police raided a gay club at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village and the world changed. The people inside fought back and began a battle that is still being waged today.
On the first anniversary of what would forever be remembered as the Stonewall riots, the first Pride march was held in New York. After than, San Francisco and gay communities started to come out of the closet and show themselves.
Pride celebrations are now held around the world, except in countries where members of the LGBT community are persecuted, imprisoned, tortured and executed.
In 1978, the rainbow flag appeared and became the symbol of LGBT and the banner for a movement.
Those early Pride marches were defiant and gay people marched to the beat of, “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.”
As time went on and social attitudes changed, people did get used to it and Pride became a celebration for the whole family to enjoy.
An ongoing debate about Pride and what it should be still exists. Is it a protest march, a parade or both? Most LGBT say both. It is symbolic that gay people are still taking the fight for equality to the streets but everyone, especially the gay community, loves a good party.
The LGBT community in Powell River is small. Its numbers are too few to throw a parade, but enough to plan a handful of fun events for everyone. It has taken decades to reach the point where even in a small and isolated community, once-persecuted people are openly here and queer, and Powell River is used to it, but not everyone.
The flag flying at Powell River city hall is symbolic of the city’s recognition of LGBT Pride being inclusive and a statement that this community marches side by side in the fight for human rights.
David Brindle is the community reporter for Powell River Peak.