Celebrating Pride in a Time of Social Distancing

It’s hard to know how to best celebrate Pride this year, so here are a couple ideas

(Kristen Frier)

Social distancing measures mean that many large events have been either canceled or postponed, with Vancouver and Surrey Pride among them. It can be hard not to feel as though celebration is pointless without any in-person events to look forward to. Fortunately, there are still events taking place online to help Metro Vancouver’s LGBTQ+ community celebrate their true, authentic selves, and plenty of queer-centric businesses remain open and willing to accept you as you are. So grab a seat and take a look at our list of options for this year’s pride festivities — and places to hold some of your own.

Hosted by the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, a “Handsome Devil” watch party will be taking place online on June 18. Written and directed by John Butler, the film takes place at an Irish boarding school and follows Ned and Conor, the rugby team’s newest star athlete, after they move in together into the same dorm room. Meanwhile, a closeted English teacher at the school tries to support both Ned and Conor without outing himself. To reserve your ticket to the watch party, click here.

Another event going online this year, the Vancouver Queer Arts Festival, will be taking place from July 16 to 26. The theme of this year’s festival is “Wicked”, which is described by the official website as reimagining identity politics and exposing the implications of homonormativity as erasure. Highlights from this year’s festival include Noam Gagnon’s final performance, “This Crazy Show” (July 25 at 7:00 pm  and July 26 at 2:00 pm), the Indigenous burlesque performance “Too Spirited” by Virago Nation (July 17 at 7:00 pm), and a digital drag performance by the non-binary drag collective The Darlings (July 24 at 7:00 pm). More information on the festival’s offerings and where to register can be found here.

If you’re looking to grab a bite with a friend, pick up some queer art and literature, or simply make a guilt-free Pride purchase, these local businesses are open and listed as being either LGBTQ+-owned or LGBTQ+-friendly.

For good old fashioned bar fare, The Junction is a solid Vancouver pick. Located in the heart of Davie Village, the Junction offers classic pub food such as nachos, chicken wings, burgers, and poutine as well as DJ sets, drag shows, and other events every night until 3:00 am. If you’re looking for something a little more local to the suburbs, The Landing Pub & Grill in Delta offers sandwiches, salads, soup, and hand-tossed pizzas in addition to classic pub and breakfast fare until 11:00 pm.

If pub food is not your style, another fantastic Davie-based option is Taki’s Taverna. Specializing in Greek food (including spanakopita, calamari, dolmathakia, and souvlaki), Taki’s is a chill place to grab lunch with a friend or have dinner with your family (biological and chosen). For Italian food, the Old Spaghetti Factory has locations in Langley, New Westminster, Abbotsford, Richmond, and Vancouver, and is well known for their “It’s All Included” meals, which come with fresh Italian sourdough, a choice of soup or salad, a choice of entrée, and spumoni ice cream. If you’re looking for breakfast, Café Deux Soleils on Commercial Drive offers your basic eggs, bacon, and toast, along with breakfast sandwiches, omelets, and French toast. It also serves lunch until 6:00 pm and features vegetarian and gluten-free options for those with sensitivities. If you’re in more of a rush, Bean Around the World has locations throughout Vancouver and offers coffee, pastries, and breakfast sandwiches, all locally made. Finally, Just Jill’s Chocolate is a Burnaby-based chocolatier that offers delicious chocolates and bonbons – and while most of your sweets from Just Jill’s will have to be ordered online, the quality is more than worth the price.

For non-food-related businesses to support, there are two big places worth shopping: Little Sister’s and Your Open Closet. Little Sister’s Book & Art Emporium has been a central fixture of the Metro Vancouver queer community since it was founded by Jim Deva and Bruce Smyth in 1983. A frequent target of the Canada Border Services Agency and their policies regarding “obscene materials”, the bookstore sells LGBTQ+ literature, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as Pride gear including flags, greeting cards, mugs, and more. Spartacus Books, another independent book store and alternative culture hub on Findlay Street, also features a wide selection of queer literature. The bookstore has also hosted various events such as movie nights and book releases.

For clothing, specifically undergarments, Your Open Closet on Commercial Drive is a more recent addition to Metro Vancouver’s queer business scene. Opened in November of 2017, Your Open Closet provides body-positive and gender-affirming undergarments including binders, padded briefs, tucking underwear, and packer-friendly boxers, as well as bras for all body types. Right now, the store is only allowing shopping online as opposed to in-store, but with free shipping to customers within Canada, it’s still a good place to pick up your transitioning essentials, even if they are a little on the expensive side.