Kwantlen marches in gay pride parade

Kwantlen students, staff and faculty marched in the 2012 Vancouver Pride Parade in support of the local queer and trans communities. (Matt DiMera/The Runner)

By Ryot Jey

Kwantlen students, faculty and staff demonstrated their pride and support for the local queer and trans communities on Sunday, Aug. 5 by marching in the 34th annual Vancouver Pride Parade.

The Kwantlen contingent rode on the back of a makeshift float, giving out candy and necklaces and squirting the crowd with water guns. The over-heated crowd roared in hope of getting wet or catching a bead necklace or some candy. Kwantlen’s float was bookended by two pride flags, one in the front and one in the back, and bordered by Pride Kwantlen and Kwantlen university banners hanging on the sides. In the midst of blaring pop music, the students danced.

As temperatures soared as high as 30 C, the parade’s grand marshals Jenna Talackova, Bill Monroe and David Holtzman led the parade down Robson Street to Denman Street and through to Beach Avenue.

Talackova, the first transgender female to be a contestant in the Miss Universe Canada competition, sat atop a silver BMW as one of three grand marshals.

She was followed up by a very regal Monroe, who helped start the first “gay club scene” in Winnipeg, dressed up as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth riding in a horse-drawn carriage.

Holtzman, a gay activist and social crusader, was honoured posthumously as the third and final grand marshal, represented by his family and friends.

Tim Richards, president of the Vancouver Pride Society, has strong personal connections to the annual event, having come out after attending his first pride parade.

“It was life-changing because I identified with people within our community,” he told The Runner. “Up to that point, I haven’t really thought of myself; I hadn’t come to the realization that I was gay. I didn’t have anyone who I really identified with.”

He went on to say what he really liked about Pride. “That’s a wonderful thing about the pride celebration – it brings people together. People see the diversity within the community, and they see people that they’d identify with.”

He said that this year’s theme came easily to the society.

“What we did was, at one of our meetings we finally said, ‘okay, we gotta tell the entries, what is it?’ we came up with one word, which was ‘fabulous’,” said Richards.

“We looked at our grand marshals that we have this season, we’ve got Jenna Talackova who’s a beauty contestant, Bill Monroe who’s been doing drag for the last sixty years, and David Holtzman who’s a community builder and activist.”

To Richards, the theme is something special.

“I think what’s wonderful every season when we do this, it sparks different conversations, different debates, and it is an opportunity for people to dream of a better tomorrow,” he said.

Other notable community marchers included in the parade were GAB Youth, the Surrey Youth Alliance, and the Fraser Valley Youth Society.

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