June marks the internationally recognized Pride Month - an inclusive celebration of the LGBTQ2+ community and an opportunity to consider the progress still to be made in the quest for equality. Kelowna will host its own celebrations predominantly over the course of June 15 - 22, 2019.
This year, the Kelowna Pride Society is planning its most substantial celebration ever in honour of the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The Kelowna Pride Festival is moving back to City Park which will allow for a longer Pride March and bigger festival area for our community partners and festival attendees.
Dustyn Baulkham, General Manager of the Kelowna Pride Society, hopes Kelowna will get behind the celebration:
“We encourage the entire community to join us in this celebration. A more inclusive Kelowna is a better Kelowna. This isn’t about ‘us versus them’, Pride is a chance to show that no matter your gender expression or sexual orientation, all are welcome here in this city. At its heart, Pride is inclusive, welcoming, open and a giant celebration! What’s not to love about that?”
The Stonewall riots was community action against police brutality toward the LGBTQ2+ community and is widely recognized as ignition of the modern LGBTQ2+ rights movement. The theme for Kelowna’s 2019 Pride celebrations is “Because of You.”
Blake Edwards, Co-President of the Kelowna Pride Society, explains the reasoning behind the theme:
“As members of the LGBTQ2+ community, every right we enjoy today was fought for and we must not forget those who risked their lives for those rights. Without their sacrifice, we wouldn’t have most of the freedoms that we enjoy today. For the Kelowna Pride Society, ‘Because of You’ is a way to honour those that fought against police brutality, discrimination, harassment and repressive laws - whether that be Stonewall and Operation Soap or creating the Rainbow Coalition and fighting for the right to have Pride here in Kelowna.”
There are a host of activities, including official Kelowna Pride events and affiliate community partner events, family-friendly fun and 19+ parties, taking place during Pride. Allies are encouraged and welcome to attend all of the events. Some of the key dates are:
Kelowna Out & Proud Film Festival (June 19 and 20)
Kelowna Trans March & Social (June 20)
Kelowna’s Next Drag Superstar presented by Heritage Law (June 21) – including Celebrity Judge and guest performer Cynthia Lee Fontaine of Ru Paul’s Drag Race fame
Pride Cruise - MOIST (June 22) - featuring Freida Whales, Ginger Snapp, and Ella Lamoureux
FruitCake: Pride (June 22) - an inclusive dance party
Kelowna’s Pride celebrations are presented by TD. You can view all of the official and affiliate Kelowna Pride events here.