British Columbia

Ahead of Pride, Kamloops man says city has a tolerance problem

​A Kamloops man's social media post describing his experiences of street harassment has prompted discussion about acceptance of LGBT people in the Southern Interior ahead of the city's second annual pride parade.

Daniel's experiences of being verbally abused have been worst in his home town

'It upset my boyfriend more than me because I see this all the time, I grew up here,' said Daniel. (Darcy Daniel Facebook)

​A Kamloops man's social media post describing his experiences of street harassment has prompted online discussion about acceptance of LGBT people in the Southern Interior ahead of the city's second annual Pride parade.

Darcy Daniel posted a Facebook Live video after being called "the 'F' word," twice while walking down the street with his boyfriend.

Daniel has lived in several Canadian cities but his experiences of being verbally abused because of his sexuality have been worst in his hometown of Kamloops, he told Rob Polson, host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.

"This happens to me on the regular in this city and I'd kinda had enough," he said.

"It upset my boyfriend more than me because I see this all the time, I grew up here."

'City is barely tolerant'

Others in Kamloops responded to the video by posting messages of support on social media and some agreed with Daniel that Kamloops has a tolerance problem.

"Paint as many crosswalks as you want and have as many parades. This city is not inclusive or accepting. This city is barely tolerant. I beg organizations and institutions like TRU [Thompson Rivers University] or the city to support a very vulnerable queer community," wrote Ashton Brenna Wright, a Kamloops resident who is originally from Ontario.

Wright, a transgender woman, said in an interview with CBC News that British Columbians living in urban centres are unaware of the level of harassment in the B.C.'s Interior. 

"Paint as many crosswalks as you want and have as many parades. This city is not inclusive or accepting.- Ashton   Brenna  Wright, Transgender resident of Kamloops

She said she's had a pool ball thrown at her head at a bar in Kamloops and often faces street harassment.

Kamloops Pride in its second year

Kamloops is gearing up for its second annual downtown Pride parade.

TRU's student union has held an annual on-campus parade since 2012.

Dylan Robinson, TRU's equity coordinator, said the wider Kamloops community was not ready for a city parade until last year.

"There was a sense within the LGBTQ+ community, I think, that people were afraid, people felt there would be a backlash," he said.

Robinson added that there were thousands of people in Kamloops who came out to support last year's downtown parade and that more visibility would lead to more safety for the LGBT communit​y.

Daniel said last year's Pride parade was a good step, but he still feels unsafe on the streets of Kamloops. 

'Males need to support each other'

"A lot of it was female support, which is great, but what I'm trying to get at is men and males need to support each other no matter what their orientation."

Sam Numsen, a director of Kamloops Pride, said that harassment of LGBT people is not purely a Kamloops issue, nor is it a purely rural issue.

He said there are instances of hate crimes across Canada every day and that he and his partner have experienced harassment in urban centres, including Vancouver, in the past.​

Numsen pointed to a recent Statistics Canada report showing police reported hates crimes in 2016.

Hate crimes on the rise

The report showed that Canada-wide, hate crimes targeting sexual orientation rose 25 per cent in 2016 to 176 incidents.

Numsen said many downtown businesses were supportive during last year's inaugural parade and that Daniel's video was an opportunity to reflect on Pride's roots in activism and to recognize that harassment is still a daily reality for many LGBT people across the country.

These incidents come just as the city prepares to host its second downtown Pride parade. 8:50

With files from Daybreak Kamloops

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