People of all ages celebrated Trans Pride Day in downtown Kelowna on June 8, with gorgeous outfits.
The evening of activities kicked off with a joyful march of cheers, chants and laughter.
Pride Week takes place from June 2 to 11, with the Trans Pride Day of celebration march being one of Kelowna Pride’s best-attended events. Approximately 300 people walked through downtown to show their pride and support for the transgender community.
This year, Pride celebrations are particularly important to uplift the transgender community, explained Fahmy Baharuddin, the board president of Kelowna Pride.
“Over the last couple of years we’ve been seeing much, much more hateful rhetoric towards the trans and non-binary community,” said Baharuddin.
He explained that now, in 2023, people feel more empowered to come out as queer as a result of Pride organizations as well as increased support, safety and acceptance in most communities around the world. However, being transgender is not a new or radical phenomenon.
Baharuddin explained that trans folks are and have always been, a regular part of society.
“We’re trying to bring attention to that, so the people who are trans and non-binary will know that the community is supporting them.”
After the march, an all-ages drag performance took place where families, 2SLGBTQIA+ folks and allies gathered for a silly, thought-provoking and glamorous performance at the Rotary Centre for the Art by Kelowna’s beloved drag star, Freida Whales.
Following the family-friendly performances ended people gathered for a social at the Kelowna Art Gallery. Once the sun went down the outrageous and fun adult content drag show began.
Across the street from the art gallery about six protesters held signs reading, “Stop sexualizing children.”
Laurie Baird and Nikki Major were two of the six protesters in attendance.
Baird said that she was specifically protesting the drag shows as “they tend to be sexual in nature… Some of the time it gets a little out of hand.”
Major said that she feels that exposing minors to drag performers is “sexualizing children.” Baird fears that exposure to drag performances could negatively impact youth and lead to an increase in teen pregnancies.
This small group did not disrupt the safe and celebratory festivities, with Baharuddin commenting that it is now more important than ever to check in with your queer friends to ensure they feel safe and supported in their community.
Kelowna Pride is a welcoming community for anyone who is questioning their gender identity or sexuality. Baharuddin said that members of the society have broad and diverse experiences that can be helpful for those looking to navigate their own journey of discovery.
Pride Week continues on June 9, with Coffee with Queers, an evening drag performance and Kelowna’s Next Drag Superstar show. On June 10, all people are invited to the Pride March and festival in downtown Kelowna to celebrate the queer community and spread joy.