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VICTORIA PRIDE WEEK: YOUR GUIDE TO PRIDE 2017

Victoria’s annual queer theatre festival OUTstages wrapped up last week, signaling the start of pride season in Victoria with performances from some of the country’s hottest queer artists. Each summer, Victoria sees more and more great events that celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and allies. This year, Pride Week will take place from July 1-9, 2017, and with so much going on, we’ve put together a Guide to Pride so you can make the most of it.

 

PRIDE OFFICIAL – FREE EVENTS

The Victoria Pride Society hosts a myriad of events during Pride Week. Get ready to don your rainbows; here are a few FREE highlights:

The Annual Memorial Dragball
July 1 | 12pm | Vic West Ballpark
See Kings and Queens battle it out on a baseball diamond in moustaches and heels! Bring a picnic and take in the bedazzled entertainment, July 1 at noon at the Vic West Ballpark.

Big Gay Dog Walk
July 2 | 12pm
Dallas Road Dog Park Furry friends gather to strut their stuff in this annual group dog walk. There will be games, pups showing off their style, and doggie gear on display. The event will culminate with a costume contest and the furry friends showing off their tricks – complete with prizes. You don’t need a doggie companion of your own to attend. 

The Pride Parade
July 9 | 11am
Watch over 100 floats and thousands of participants of all ages decked out in incredible glittery outfits and some hot choreography in The Pride Parade, as it winds its way from downtown to the final destination at MacDonald Park, where the Pride Festival kicks off with vendors and live entertainment. The Pride Parade starts at 11am and winds its way down Government Street to James Bay. Insider tip: grab your spot on the parade route early to get the best view, and follow the parade down to James Bay for a massive party in the park. Details here > 

The Pride Festival
July 9 | 12pm
Macdonald Park Macdonald Park will fill with thousands of people to commemorate the end of Pride with a giant community celebration. The festival has a food court, beer garden, vendors, a kid’s camp and two stages with live entertainment from drag to burlesque and live music. The festival will close with a knockout performance on the beer garden stage from Vancouver’s Queer as Funk. Insider tip: the party continues at Paparazzi Nightclub after the festival featuring guest stars from Seattle’s drag scene, more on that later…

 

ABSOLUTELY DRAGULOUS – DRAG EVENTS

Victoria has a vibrant drag scene of kings and queens who perform on stages and in clubs around the city all year long, and during Pride some special out-of-town guests make special appearances alongside our Capital City royalty.

Absolutely Dragulous
July 7 | 9pm | Paparazzi Nightclub | Cover $10
Vancouver favourite Carlotta Gurl will headline alongside a bevy of other Victoria beauties, including the newly crowned Mr. & Miss. Gay Vancouver Island. The show hits the stage at 10:30pm.

Smells Like Teen Spirit
July 9 | Paparazzi Nightclub | Cover $5
A host of Seattle Queens cross the pond for the after-party party, Smells Like Queen Spirit packs Paparazzi for the after-party party following the Pride Parade & Festival. Insider tip: this night is packed, with a line-up winding down the street, so get there early.

4th Annual House of Gabor Beach Party
July | 10pm | Sugar Nightclub 
House of Gabor’s Beach Party hosts a stage filled with drag performers (including King Fling, Gouda Gabor and headliner BiBi SouPhresh), the beats of DJ Nims, and an excuse to wear those floral shorts.

 

QUEER ART – PRIDE & BEYOND

Pride in the Word
July 8 | 7pm | Ambrosia Centre
Pride in the Word is Canada’s largest Pride literary event, and a perennial favourite, featuring Ivan Coyote, Adèle Barclay and Jillian Christmas. This event is always a sell-out so get tickets early.

Bed & Breakfast
August 8-27 | Belfry Theatre
The Belfry Theatre stages Bed & Breakfast as their summer offering in August – its’ a bit after Pride, but well worth the wait. This show about a gay couple who turn heads when they inherit a B&B in a quiet tourist town… sound familiar? The show stars real-life couple Paul Dunn & Mark Crawford (who is also the playwright).

Red Hot Cole! August
1 – 13 | Roxy Theatre
Red Hot Cole! Heats up The Roxy as Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre stages this sizzling musical review with incredible tunes and talent. This show tips its hat to the glamorous Broadway musicals of Porter and packs in some campy charm, sure to delight Pride-goers and musical-lovers.

#LOVEISWELCOMEHERE

WHAT’S PRIDE ALL ABOUT, ANYWAY?

By Sean Guist

Pride is a celebration of community, of queer life, queer culture and of our allies and families - those we were born into and those we have chosen. It is also a time of reflection - to see how far we have come in acceptance and equality and a reminder of how much work is still ahead of us. We wave our rainbow flags proudly in Victoria, but in many cities and towns across Canada there is rampant homophobia, transphobia, and acceptance is slow-moving. In Lethbridge, Alberta, where I studied theatre at the U of L, the city's rainbow flag crosswalk and trans pride flag crosswalk (the first in Canada) were vandalized repeatedly, smeared with tar and manure. 

Pride can bring together communities, inspire conversation and is a catalyst for change. In Lethbridge, the night before the pride parade, a group of University of Lethbridge Pronghorn athletes stayed up all night, camped out on the street and stood guard to make sure that the rainbow and trans pride crosswalks weren't defaced before the parade. We live in a country where many of the elders in our community have criminal records for being homosexual, where there is still a fight for the right to pee, and where queer and trans youth are kicked out of their homes. We also live in a country where our Prime Minster and his family proudly marched in Toronto's Pride Parade. 

So when you tie on your rainbow bandana for the Victoria Pride Parade, take a moment to reflect. Take a moment to promise yourself to make a difference, big or small this year. Volunteer or support organizations that are fighting injustice and atrocities across the globe, say something when you hear a homophobic comment, make a safe space for coming out, march in the parade, and don't just do it this week. Do it all year long.

Happy Pride, see you at the parade!

ABOUT SEAN

Sean Guist is an arts administrator by day and queer artist by night, though that line is blurring. He has directed, performed in, designed and created theatre, operas and cabarets across Western Canada and is the curator of Intrepid Theatre's OUTstages Festival, Victoria's queer theatre festival. Sean is a prairie boy living life on the west coast. He will be walking in the Pride Parade with Intrepid Theatre for the 5th time this year.