VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As people around the world struggle to come to grips with Sunday’s massacre at a gay nightclub in Florida, organizers of this summer’s Pride celebration here in Vancouver are speaking out about how the worst mass shooting in the US may affect the tone and turnout.
They hope the huge show of support at a recent vigil will spill over into July’s festivities.
Hundreds came out to the vigil Sunday night — many not part of the LGBTQ community — but who felt compelled to stand in solidarity — something President of the Vancouver Pride Society, Alan Jernigan says was very moving, and is hoping to see more of. “I think that to see the kind of positive change that we want to see requires everyone, including allies, to work together.”
He adds there is already talk about how to properly acknowledge the events in Orlando, and he expects the tone for some may be a bit different than other years.
“Pride is a very big event, and at the Pride Society, we’re just the stewards of that event, right? So everybody will have a chance to reflect on the events in whatever way they think is appropriate, and we’re going to do our best to support everyone in the community through their process of grief,” Jernigan says.
The theme — developed long before the shooting — is “better together,” and Jernigan says Pride season will be an amazing opportunity to come together to mourn those lost and to celebrate the community still here.
“There is violence that is directed toward members of the LGBTQ community on a regular basis, and if there’s any kind of takeaway from an event as tragic as this, it’s that there is still good work to be done, there [are] still amazing people doing amazing work to support people who are victims of violence, particularly people in the trans community and the trans people of colour community, and I hope that people who saw these events and were moved by these events, regardless of where you fit in the community, can take that as a call to action to make things better.”
Jernigan adds organizers will be talking to police about security.
“This year, as with every year, we work really closely with the Vancouver Police Department and with private security, and risk assessment is something that we leave to the police department — they’re the professionals, and we’re going to continue to leave that to them. We actively talk to them in lead-up to all of our events and we’re doing that right now, and we’re definitely going to be talking about what this means for our events.”
Vancouver Pride Week is July 25th-August 2nd.