Vernon is preparing to showcase its true colours once again, with the second annual Pride Week set for Aug. 7-13.
Last year was the inaugural week-long pride celebration in the city. But this year promises to be bigger and better than 2022.
“We are offering a ton of youth support this year,” said Elmaz Wilder, Pride Society director.
“One of the biggest events we will be doing is a trans/LGBT+ panel night at the the Okanagan Regional Library.”
As for why Pride Week takes place in August and not in June which is International Pride Month, Wilder said it was a combination of two factors.
“Well for one, last year we just made it for August because it was such a last-minute decision and pull through from the community (to make the event happen), so I think they are just rolling it in to make it consistent,” Wilder explained.
“But the other reason is that a lot of the June month, there are multiple places throughout the Okanagan and Vancouver putting on Pride events so we don’t want to be matching up too closely with other people.”
In 2022, the Vernon Pride Society became an official non-profit organization.“We had a huge amount of support from last year’s event,” said Wilder, who owns Ritual Barbershop.
“The people who don’t support us are hiding behind computers. The drag show was one of those things that had a big backlash, but yet we have really pushed and worked with our library to continue this because it’s not about child grooming, these people are just dressing up and sharing a fun story and kids absolutely love it, but that was a big hurdle that we had to face. “
Wilder expanded the issues he has seen as an open member of the trans and LGBT community.
“I feel like a lot of Vernon is conservative. We have an older demographic who does not want to support this type of event and people, and it’s unfortunate because I really believe that no matter who you are, what we are doing is coming from love and community.”
The week kicks off with a launch party on Monday, the flag raising on Tuesday, Polson Pride Artisan Night market on Friday and the Pride March on Saturday. These are just a few of the dozens events scheduled.
Wilder hopes that, as more and more people come out to show support for pride, their message can spread. “I think the biggest thing we are striving for is getting our voices heard in the community.
“We want to advocate as much as possible for folks who are LGBT+ and also creating a sense of love and support within our community.”
All event information can be found at vernonpride.ca.