Spectrum: There’s no one way to celebrate Pride

It’s important to remember the beginnings of Pride, while also cherishing how it has evolved

Folsom Street East Pride Parade in 2019. (Flickr/ istolethetv)

It’s that time of the year again. When, depending on where you are, rainbows in shop windows become a part of your everyday jaunt around town, and countless debates pop up about who should or should not, be most visible and why.

June, Pride Month, is underway. And already, there are debates about who should and should not be at Pride. This year, the focus seems to be on whether “kink” (as in BDSM) should be allowed at Pride.

Those against it argue that such displays alienate the asexual community, violate some sense of consent, or make it uncomfortable for queer minors by conflating Pride with sex. It’s worth noting that many of the people making these arguments are generally straight and on the right of the political spectrum.

The response from supporters, and rightly so, consists of reminding people that Pride began as a riot aimed at normalizing queer identities and sexualities. Much of the opposition stems from the same discomfort with queerness leveraged against drag queen storytimes and queer characters on kids shows.

Now, I’m relatively young and new to seeing this kind of debate. I also acknowledge that I am lucky in that I, and many in my age cohort, have grown up in a time and place where being queer has been regarded, if not with acceptance, with a calm kind of indifference.

As a result, I’ve seen multiple municipalities in the Lower Mainland hold Pride events that could be considered “family-friendly” while not watering down the essence of what Pride is and who it’s about.

Prior to the pandemic and the age of virtual events, the Surrey Pride festival was one such event, encouraging queer people and their allies of all ages to participate with performers from every facet of the queer community.

Of course, pride festivals like Surrey’s take place in cities and towns outside Vancouver where the queer community might not have previously had an open presence. As a result, the focus is generally more on creating a space where they can feel welcome and celebrated.

At the end of the day, if seeing the multiple ways Pride has been celebrated across Metro Vancouver has taught me anything, it’s that there’s no right — or wrong — way to celebrate Pride.

If you want to march in the main parade in Vancouver in your finest leather gear or in almost nothing, go for it (once it is safe enough in the pandemic, of course). If you would rather go to a smaller, perhaps tamer event in Surrey or any of the other smaller cities that make up the Lower Mainland? Have a blast.

Regardless of the forms it may take wherever you are, Pride is, at its core, about being your most authentic self. And when you’re in a place where that might not be as accepted, that can be the most rebellious thing you can do.