The first ever gay pride march is being held in Abbotsford, B.C., this weekend — in the heart of the Bible Belt.
The Fraser Valley city, which has deep religious roots, has held an annual walk against homophobia for several years.
But organizers of the Fraser Valley Pride parade say queer youth in the community should no longer feel like victims.
"There's a need for pride, not a need to fight against homophobia — to shift to a celebration — because there's a lot of people out here who really do celebrate that," said John Kuipers with the Fraser Valley Youth Society.
Kuipers, 28, says stereotypes can work both ways.
"Just like Abbotsford gets a bad rap for being a narrow-minded, Bible Belt community, I think that there are a lot of stereotypes about the gay and lesbian community ... being highly sexualized."
The parade starts at 3 p.m. PT at the Matsqui Recreation Centre.
It wraps up with a free barbecue at the Civic Plaza, followed by a screening of the film She's a Boy I Knew, about a Vancouver filmmaker’s transition from male to female, and a panel discussion at 7:30 p.m.
About 200 people are expected to attend.