British Columbia

Vancouver Pride Festival ends with a virtual parade and nod to history

Vancouver's Pride Week came to an end Sunday with a virtual parade and an acknowledgement of its roots.

Online celebration of LGBTQ community a success despite COVID-19 restrictions, organizer says

‘Wish You Were Here’ by HFOUR is pictured in Jim Deva Plaza as part of Vancouver’s Pride Art Walk in downtown Vancouver. Streets were quieter this year during Pride Week as most events went online due to COVID-19. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Vancouver's Pride week came to an end Sunday with a virtual parade and an acknowledgement of its roots.

Although city streets weren't filled with rainbow flags, floats and music this year, the online festival was an overall success, said Andrea Arnot, executive director of Vancouver Pride Society.

"I think it went really well," she said.

"It was really important for us to create a week of virtual events so that people can tune in from wherever they were and still feel that sense of being part of something bigger than themselves, and to not feel alone."

More than 30 events were held online throughout the week, including anti-racism workshops, drag shows and discussion panels including a queer history panel — something Arnot said was a highlight that will be incorporated into the festival in the future.

"A lot of queer history is not written down in a textbook, so capturing people's stories on video and having those productions will be really important," she said.

One event remained offline: an art walk with five locations in the city's downtown and West End. The artwork will remain up until Aug. 3.

The festival culminated with the virtual parade, performances and a documentary about 40 years of Pride history.

Organizers focused on honouring that history, celebrating the LGBTQ community and looking forward to work that remains to be done.

Although the pandemic forced drastic changes to this year's festival, Arnot said she believes it will go down in history as another example of the LGBTQ community's ability to overcome adversity and connect with each other no matter what.

"Our queer and trans communities have gone through different crises in the past and we've been resilient and strong," she said.

"We've made it through. We're going to make it through this year, as well."

Art installations, like this one called ‘Butterflies in Spirit’ by Morgan Asoyuf in Morton Park, can be seen until Aug. 3 as part of Vancouver’s Pride Art Walk. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

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