Letter: Pride celebration has come a long way

(At the recent Gay Pride parade) There was no shortage of politicians jumping on the GLBT & Q bandwagon.

To the editor:

While attending the recent Pride March in Kelowna, I noticed the carefree festive atmosphere, commercial element, and lots of media coverage.

This was in stark contrast to the very first Gay Pride march that I joined many years ago in this city.

I can’t remember the exact year, but it was before many of the younger participants present today were even born.

This year’s march to City Park had a you’ve-come-a-long-way-baby feel to it.

At the park, Wilbur Turner, president of Okanagan Pride Society and co-chair of the Pride Festival, said this year’s numbers overwhelmed him.

There was no shortage of politicians jumping on the GLBT & Q bandwagon.

Calling Pride Week a “celebration of diversity,” Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray read the 2013 Pride Week proclamation and told the crowd, there’s support at city hall for what you’re doing.

While I was listening to all the praises and absorbing the jubilant atmosphere, I was reflecting back to my first Gay Pride march experience.

As people gathered at Kerry Park, there was a somber feeling in the air, as rumours floated around the city that bikers and rednecks were going to disrupt the march.

Kelowna was still a very conservative and largely homophobic city.

The media were keeping a low profile, and there wasn’t a politician from city hall to be seen anywhere.

We marched to the park holding up our posters and weren’t beaten up.

(Then Vancouver-area NDP MP) Sven Robinson, the first Canadian politician to come out, joined the parade.

I walked with a group from the Unitarian Fellowship of Kelowna, who supports gender equality.

Despite the lack of support from the community, there was a festive, empowering feeling among the participants as we enjoyed food and entertainment in the park.

I was also invited to the first legal same sex marriage in Kelowna, which took place at the Unitarian Church.

There was a congratulatory letter sent from the prime minister of the day. (No, not Stephen Harper.)

As Turner told the crowd, we’re a family because we are connected by a struggle that has gone on for years for equality. We just want to be treated like everybody else—equally.

Like I mentioned, we’ve come a long way, but there’s still more work to be done before a radically inclusive community is created.

I am already starting the next movement called the Fem-Man-ist movement.

Join the revolution.

Hajime (Harold) Naka,




Kelowna Capital News