It may be a bit rushed, but Coquitlam is set to hold its first Pride celebration on July 15, following a unanimous vote from council Monday.
Council previously opted to have city staff investigation options for hosting an LGBTQ2S+ Pride party after a February presentation from Dr. Charles Best Secondary Gay-Straight-Alliance students.
“Pride is more than a flag. It is a sense of community and belonging. The outward showing of support is essential in a time where online rhetoric is transforming into hate-fueled protests in real life,” one of the students told council.
With a busy event season already planned, city staff looked to build the event around a planned show at Evergreen Cultural Centre called ‘Cirque de Coquitlam – a Drag Circus!’
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Place des Arts, Coquitlam Heritage and Coquitlam library are all set to play a part in the festivities, according to city staff.
While council was enthusiastic in their support, Coun. Dennis Marsden noted the possibility of conflict.
A Drag Queen storytime event at Coquitlam library inspired an angry protest. While there was some pushing and shoving, there were no arrests, Coquitlam RCMP reported at the time.
Still, the show “had some pushback,” Marsden noted, asking council to ensure the revelers would be safe.
“I would just hate to have a situation where they don’t feel as comfortable as they should,” Marsden said.
The city is slated to spend $6,000 on the event – an amount that surprised Coun. Steve Kim.
“Is that enough?” Kim asked.
Given that the city is essentially “piggybacking on what was happening at the Evergreen Cultural Centre,” $6,000 should be sufficient, explained Lanny Englund, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation, culture and facilities.
“It’s not the scale that it hopefully will be in the future,” Englund added, explaining the city will likely have a different approach to hosting an annual Pride event beginning in 2024.
Prior to the July 15 Drag Circus! Show, the Evergreen Cultural Centre lobby is set to be open to the public. A ticketed after-party is scheduled at Rehearsal Hall.
While speaking to council in February, a student from Charles Best Secondary’s Gay-Straight-Alliance explained the need to feel a sense of belonging in the city.
“We came of age during the pandemic, a time when Pride was canceled for years. As a result, queer youth have been unable to see queer elders, queer families, or a queer-friendly city.”