News / Vancouver

From protest to celebration: Vancouver Pride Week begins

A lot has changed since Celebrities Nightclub opened its doors as a haven for the LGBTQ community on Davie Street 30 years ago.

Same-sex marriage is legal, politicians proudly march in the Pride Parade and acceptance of the LGBTQ community has grown beyond Vancouver’s gay neighbourhood, said James Steck, organizer of Pride Week events for the legendary nightclub.

“It’s gone from more of a protest march to a celebration parade of diversity,” Steck said Sunday.

Vancouver’s 36th annual Pride Week officially kicks off Monday, and Celebrities is marking its 30th anniversary with a DJ set from Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Support from elected officials shows how far Vancouver has come in accepting the LGBTQ community, no matter what part of town they’re in, Steck said.

“You’ve seen that gay bars have been disappearing… the gay and lesbian communities are much more accepted in all environments,” he said.

“It’s been a long time fighting it, but for a gay man it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to walk down the street with my partner and not have to feel afraid or look over my shoulder.”

Celebrities now caters beyond the LGBTQ community with high profile DJ shows attracting a variety of people, but stays strong to its roots. Security goes through extensive training to ensure a safe environment.

It’s one of many venues hosting events to celebrate diversity in a week that culminates in the Pride Parade, which 650,000 people are expected to attend on Sunday.

For the first time, the Vancouver Pride Society will livestream the parade and has an official Pride smartphone app so people can keep up with the events.

The buy in from the mainstream society, including businesses, the city and the police chief, shows how much has changed since the parade’s early days, said Caryl Dolinko, the society’s communications co-ordinator.

“The fact that our mayor shows up at our parade and honours it says to me we are living in a safe community that supports our right,” Dolinko said. “Many parts of the world do not have the luxury to stand up and support diversity.”

Homosexuality is illegal in more than 70 countries and punishable by death in seven.

Tips for Pride Week

  • Buy tickets to events in advance to avoid long lines (Celebrities tickets can be purchased here)
  • Get to the parade early to stake out a seat
  • Bring lots of water to the parade – the forecast calls for hot weather
  • Download the Vancouver Pride Passport smartphone app

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