An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
I WAS PROUD of Kamloops on Sunday. Hundreds of people walked in the second annual Downtown Pride Parade, many of them representing social service agencies, volunteer groups and corporations.
Thousands more lined Victoria and Lansdowne streets to cheer them on as they walked by in their colourful costumes, waving rainbow flags and carrying banners. Many businesses along the way had decorated their windows for the occasion.
People laughed and whooped and shouted, DJ’s played music along the way — it was a true community celebration. The town has come far in a very short time.
There were reminders, though, that we aren’t there yet. As the parade was preparing to get underway from Riverside Park, speakers told the crowd that conversion therapy is still legal in B.C. In Kelowna, a drag queen was attacked just a week ago while walking home from a nightclub. In Kamloops, another drag queen recently reported being verbally abused on the street and denied a rental suite.
And Merritt city council refused to allow a rainbow sidewalk to be painted outside a school earlier this year.
In some places, Pride parades are banned, in others, participants have been attacked.
It should be said, though, that conversion therapy — the practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation using psychology — seems likely to be banned soon because it’s a violation of human rights and is ineffective as well. Merritt got its crosswalk, plus three more, though not through City council. And in many countries, violence against LGBTQ people is now considered a hate crime.
While homophobia lives, there was none of it in downtown Kamloops yesterday. Those were good, community minded Kamloopsians in the parade and on the sidewalks who came out on a Sunday to show they live in a welcoming place.
On a side note, as promised, police weren’t there in uniform, but the day will come when they’ll be welcomed to walk with or without uniforms, and I have a feeling that day isn’t far off.
Yesterday was a good day for Kamloops. A Pride day, and a proud day.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.