Celebrate B.C.'s LGBTQ shining stars with CBC British Columbia

Highlighting British Columbians who make a positive impact in the LGBTQ community.

Highlighting British Columbians who make a positive impact in the LGBTQ community

It's Pride! A time to celebrate B.C.'s wonderfully diverse and robust LGBTQ community.

To commemorate the occasion, CBC British Columbia is shining a light on those who are making a difference and inspiring positive change in B.C.'s LGBTQ community. 

The selected individuals demonstrate resilience, strength and commitment to the LGBTQ community and now it's their time to proudly shine in the spotlight! 

Check out the inspiring Proud to Shine profiles below!

Willi Zwozdesky | Vancouver, B.C.

What makes me proud of the local LGBTQ space is our sense of ourselves as a community. We have come a long way since I moved here in 1981 with many transitional phases and bumps along the way. However, the prevailing forward movement in the community is palpable and the spirit of cooperation I sense across a wide spectrum of individuals in our community is inspiring to me. That spirit keeps me going every day.

I celebrate the community via my work with the Vancouver Men's Chorus. Throughout my 40-year long career as conductor of the VMC, I know that we have opened the minds and touched the hearts of thousands of people within the LGBTQ community and beyond. 

Looking ahead, I am most hopeful for a return to normal, in which I don't think I'm alone! We all want to get back to being together – singing and playing together, being out and proud.


Kimbo Bince Villagante | Vancouver, B.C.

What makes me proud of the local LGBTQ community is our poetry and storytelling. Both have guiding principles that affirm our divine existence and work to eradicate capitalism, ableism, anti-Blackness, transphobia and homophobia. When I witness people learning to navigate the world with integrity, honour, explosive creativity and resistance through art, I feel less alone.

I celebrate the LGBTQ community by enjoying the local art, music, theatre and poetry of queer creators and by getting to know people in the community and giving generously. To celebrate myself, I make time to play! 

I'm inspired by the electronic musicians in my life and the ways they queer sound as well as the determination of the Black, Indigenous and people of colour queer/Trans/non-binary artists.

In the year ahead, I am hopeful that my music will become something bigger than I could ever imagine. And I look forward to (hopefully) travelling to the European Union this fall to perform at two music festivals.


Darla Tomeldan | Burnaby, B.C.

A core value of Filipinos is pakikipagkapwa: having empathy by being there for others/community. I am proud of the LGBTQ community's inclusivity, resilience, humility, positivity, support network and its ability to come together in times of triumphs and hardships. 

I celebrate the LGBTQ community through participation in its events and being a part of Filipino heritage/cultural community events. But it's important to go beyond the rainbows, glitter and house music. Making an impact means continuing to fight for policies and protections affecting LGBTQ and Indigenous people here and around the world, and sharing stories using the Indigenous methodology of kwentuhan (storytelling) to decolonize. 

I am inspired by the ates (older sisters), kuyas (older brothers) and mga kapatid (siblings) who continue to pave the way to end discrimination against LGBTQ folks, Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities. 

In the year ahead I am hopeful for advancements in human rights for LGBTQ folks and for the migrant workers who provide essential services to our communities. I also hope to see more representation of Filipino/a/x LGBTQ in television, film and the arts.


Levi Nahirney | North Vancouver, B.C.

What I love about the local LGBTQ community is that it's very open and accepting. It's a place where we can celebrate ourselves by being who we are, spend quality time together and support one another. 

I'm inspired by my friends and how bravely they go through their own journeys and challenges, the openness of the community and the stories I hear from the new people I meet.

Helping to educate people who don't know much about the LGBTQ community and our experiences is important to me. It's by growing awareness and understanding that we will create a more equitable world. 

Looking ahead, I'm hopeful that there will be greater awareness, equality and acceptance of the LGBTQ community and I'm hopeful that the LGBTQ journey will become easier for those looking to live their true selves.

You can see more of Levi in a new CBC Absolutely Canadian documentary on CBC Gem.


Nicole Stanchfield | Kamloops, B.C.

It's easy to be proud of my LGBTQ community here on the unceded ancestral territory of the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Peoples. I'm surrounded by diverse people of all ages and each person has a different lived story that speaks to the beauty and strength of this community. I'm humbled by the continued resilience of the community and am honoured to be part of it! 

What inspires me are the Trans women of colour have been leading the way for years. I'm also inspired by the queer and Trans youth who have been challenging heteronormativity and unpacking the binary – we need to listen to these folks and amplify their voices instead of dismissing them because of their age.

I celebrate the LGBTQ community with everything that I do, whether that be hosting a community summit to connect and collaborate with local service providers, challenging folks to unlearn homophobia/transphobia or writing for policy change within healthcare and legal systems. As a white, cisgender, able-bodied person it's my duty to use my privilege to tear down the systemic barriers folks encounter.


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