Open Letter: Let’s Plan Our Next Pride Together

Dear Prince Rupert Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, and Q+ People:

Last year a group of proud community members held a Pride event at the Rainbow Bridge in Prince Rupert – the City of Rainbows. This marked a step forward in making Prince Rupert Pride an annual event.

This year a number of Pride events have already happened or are about to happen. A local church held a “Prelude to Pride”, the students of local schools organized a Pride float for Seafest, a local pub is planning a Pride Night, and there will be a Pride potluck on June 26th. There’s certainly momentum for Pride in Prince Rupert!

Pride is More Than an Event

Pride is more than a set of events called “Pride”. For our community to truly celebrate “a” Pride event it must be organized by the whole community and it must serve the purpose of uniting us for our equality, dignity, and life. Pride, as a continuation of the movement to secure equality or all lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and Q+ people, provides a way for us to focus on working together and uniting as a diverse community. It also helps us stand up for one another.

Pride exists for those of us who “get” to decide if they will (or will not) come out. While everyone else is welcome to celebrate with us, the point of Pride has always been about bringing our community together. We do this to build unity so we can work together for our equality. And we do this because coming out is a life decision that we alone must make.

Pride Helps Organize for Equality, Dignity, and Life

The process of planning Pride matters as much as holding Pride. Everyone in the “get to come out” community must have a voice in how we will celebrate and make ourselves visible. This requires face to face organizing, intentional planning, listening to each other, and recognizing and celebrating the vast diversity that is core to lesbian, gay, trans, and Q+ communities. Pride is an inherently democratic and pluralistic process that requires intentionality around organizing a single event in celebration of vast diversity.

We also all share the experience of being much more than a single point of identity. Every lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and Q+ person has a right to be valued as someone who is more than their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Like everyone else, we are each a complex, multi-faceted, and unique individual.

Planning Pride Should Reflect the Diversity of Our Community

Those of us who “get” to come out (because we either have historically been or are now forced into the closet by others), are a diverse community. We share the experience of deciding when and if to come out. (We do this every day of our lives.)  We also share the experience of facing discrimination because of how the decision to come out is received by others.

When our sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression becomes a source for discrimination against us we must stand together and demand equality, dignity, and life for everyone. Pride is one way we build strength to do just that.

We are diverse. Some of us are liberal. Some are conservative. Some are loud. Some are quiet. We are old and young. We are religious and non-religious. We span different races, classes, communities, nations, and perspectives. We are multifaceted persons with a wide range of life experiences.

These shared experiences unite us in solidarity. That is why we created Pride in the first place. Pride is more than a party, more than a parade, and more than rainbow flags or fashion statements. It is a celebration of ourselves and our lives.

Let’s Start Preparing – See You at the Pride Potluck

So let’s do more than celebrate Pride this June. Let’s do more by starting to prepare for our next year’s Pride month – so we can truly carry forward this movement as a local community of diverse people. The Pride Potluck on Sunday June 26th is meant to bring members of our diverse community together to sit down, face to face, so we can start planning how we want to plan future Pride events for our community – as a community.

A potluck (or some other event) to start building connections as a first step to start planning for future Pride events may not sound exciting. It may not seem like much of a thing to do. But it’s the only way for us to truly hold a “Pride” in Prince Rupert at some future point, one that celebrates diversity and that builds unity as a community.

Please come out on Sunday June 26th at 5 PM to meet other members of our community over an informal potluck meal and conversations to get to know each other better. Don’t worry, this is not a meeting. We won’t be sitting around to plan future events at the potluck. Instead, we will be getting to know each other over dinner – so that over the course of the next year, for those who want to, can start working together to make sure that future Pride events will truly bring us together in our fabulous diversity.

I hope to see you there!

Tom Kertes