Surrey holds first-ever pride parade
'Our time has come ... I think people have been waiting," says Surrey Pride Society president
The LGBTQ community in Surrey has claimed a first by holding a pride parade on Sunday.
"Our time has come," said Shawn Ewing, president of the Surrey Pride Society. "I think people have been waiting and we've been a little bit frightened to do that next step ... it was time to do this."
Many at the parade told CBC they view Surrey as a municipality with more conservative values than Vancouver and that was one reason it's taken until now to hold the event.
"I don't like it, I think they should have stayed in Vancouver," said an 80-year-old woman who would only identify herself to the CBC as Joanna. "Now they're in your face, I don't like that too much."
Surrey's first pride parade began at 11 a.m. PT on Sunday at City Hall Plaza and marched down to University Boulevard to the Surrey Pride Festival at Holland Park.
Taylor Sherstone, 16, walked in the parade with her friend Emma Ng who is 17.
"I hope our generation is the one that gets this nailed down and finds acceptance that everyone deserves," said Sherstone.
"We're going to be the generation to make the difference," added Ng. "I hope we can push traditional values that have blocked LGBTQ values in the past."
Earlier in June, Surrey City Council unanimously approved a motion to fly a rainbow-coloured flag at Surrey City Hall until the pride festival on Sunday
It was meant to show solidarity, sympathy and support for the members of the LGBTQ community following the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.
Surrey was also the host of the Lower Mainland's first LGBTQ prom.
But Alex Sangha, who is the founder of Sher Vancouver, a queer support group for South Asians, said Surrey's event still needs time to grow and attract participants that reflect the city's demographics.
"I think it's hard for people of colour, especially South Asians," he said while marching in the parade. "It's a little bit close to home. There are some queer South Asians [at the parade] ... but it's hard for people to come out of the closet."
with files from Deborah Goble