Vancouver proclaims 2018 'Year of the Queer,' raises flags at city hall

Pride Flag and Trans Flag will fly outside of Vancouver City Hall through the summer in honour of contributions from the LGBTQ community.

Pride Flag and Trans Flag will fly outside of Vancouver City Hall through summer

The Pride Flag and Trans Flag will fly outside of Vancouver City Hall for the summer. (CBC)

The City of Vancouver kicked off a year-long celebration of LGBTQ contributions to the cultural fabric of the city, proclaiming 2018 to be the 'Year of the Queer'.

The city raised rainbow and trans flags in front of City Hall on Wednesday to mark the year-long celebration. Two-spirited flags were also crafted and on display at the event. 

"As far as we know, this is the first time any city has proclaimed a Year of the Queer," said Tim Stevenson, Vancouver's deputy mayor.

According to the city, the 'Year of the Queer' is a celebration of queer contributions to the artistic, cultural and social landscape of Vancouver.

Musicians and artists were in attendance to celebrate Vancouver's 'Year of the Queer' ceremony on May 23, 2018. (CBC)

"[2018] marks significant anniversaries for 15 local [LGBTQ] arts, cultural, community and health organizations, all of which have made substantial contributions to Vancouver's artistic, social and cultural landscape," according to a City of Vancouver staff report.

Those include the 40th anniversary of Vancouver Pride Society's Pride Parade and Sunset Beach Festival, the 40th anniversary of Qmunity — B.C.'s Queer, Trans, and Two-Spirted Resource Centre — and the 35th anniversary of AIDS Vancouver.

The flags will fly from May 23, 2018 to August 19, 2018.

Creating safe spaces

According to Osmel Maynes, executive director of Qmunity, the event symbolizes decades of activism by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirited, and queer community that have helped define Vancouver as a welcoming and inclusive city.

But he says it's also an opportunity to highlight how much more work needs to be done to ensure all voices in the community are heard.

"This is a platform for us to discuss the lived experience of [LGBTQ] individuals here in Vancouver who continue to face racism and sexism," said Maynes.

Politicians, community advocates, and activists gathered for the official flag raising outside of Vancouver City Hall. (CBC)

He says many members of the community are still marginalized, and hopes the year-long celebration can elevate awareness.

With files from CBC's The Early Edition