Pride week is well underway in Kelowna, but this year is a special anniversary for the LGBTQ2+ community, as was celebrated by hundreds of people at Saturday’s pride parade.
“This is a very important anniversary for pride,” said Kelowna Pride Society co-president Blake Edwards.
“We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the stonewall riots, a police raid in New York City, and that was really a pivotal moment in what we now call the gay liberation movement.”
Even though that was 50 years ago, there are still a lot of barriers that events like Pride Week are trying to tear down.
“There’s still a fight to be fought,” said Edwards.
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That’s why the Kelowna Pride Society is making sure that the rainbow flag isn’t only waved just once a year, but every day.
“It’s raising the awareness that dignity and respect is something everyone deserves year round and everybody deserves that in our daily lives,” said Kelowna Pride Society co-president Rick Andre.
“You shouldn’t be scared of who you are, what you do, what businesses you represent, as long as you be who you are.”
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One bright star in the community has raised his voice in the name of equality. And when Tor Broughton attended his first pride parade when he was 10 years old, he was introduced to a whole new world.
“I didn’t really understand there was a whole community, especially in Kelowna of LGBTQ people,” said Broughton. “So I guess it was kind of like mind boggling to see all these people who were like me and who cared about people like me.”
“It was eye-opening. It made me feel safer. There will always be hatred and discrimination. I think we need Pride; it’s an important place for the community.”
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Wondering what it’s like to be at the centre of a pride parade and feel a sense of belonging?
“Everyone is so happy, proud to be themselves, love who they love and be who they are,” said Broughton. “It’s also a way to commemorate the memories of those we have lost.
“It’s just a way of trying to overcome that pain and suffering and to just be proud and be out there.”