The New West Pride Society is speaking out against recent homophobic and transphobic incidents in the Lower Mainland.
One of those incidents occurred in New West, when signage for the Rainbow Chorus at Queens Avenue United Church was defaced.
"The New West Pride Society is saddened and angry to learn of the recent increase in threatening and hateful behavior towards the 2SLGBTQIA+ community by transphobic and homophobic agitators,” said a July 6 statement from the society.
In mid-June, someone glued their own signs overtop posters in poster boxes at the Queens Avenue United Church, which advertised an upcoming Rainbow Chorus concert and another church benefit concert for Ukraine. The protest signs referenced “modern Sodom” and a couple of Bible verses, including Jude 7, which cites the “sexual immorality and perversion” of Sodom and Gomorrah.
On Wednesday, the Delta Police Department requested the public’s assistance in helping to identify the person responsible for damaging a Pride flag that was hung at the entranceway to the Ladner United Church. In that incident, a suspect – who hid their face and attempted to cover the church’s surveillance camera – damaged the pole by striking it multiple times; police believe the pole may have had a sharp edge at the tip because the flag was torn in multiple locations.
“In the past few weeks the 2SLGBTQIA+ community has been targeted at Pride events in Victoria, Sechelt, Surrey, and Delta. In Norway, a shooting at a gay club left two people dead and 21 wounded and here in New West, signage for the Rainbow Chorus that takes place at Queens Ave Church was defaced,” read the society’s statement. “When incidents like this happen, often the first thing we hear, is, ‘this is not representative of our city or our community or our town.’ Statements like this, though well-intentioned, are harmful. These statements undermine the lived realities and experiences of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and disproportionately impact the BIPOC and transgender members of our community.”
New West Pride’s statement said the increase in these emboldened and coordinated efforts to target the 2SLGBTQIA+ community must be called out for what they are – homophobia and transphobia.
“We must be truthful when these events occur and be honest and open enough to name that they happen far too often. For us, this is a reminder that the work of being visible, of living out and proud lives without fear of being harmed is ongoing,” said the statement. “Pride started as a riot, and we must continue to fight for all members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.”
Pride Week returns
The New West Pride Society is hard at work on plans for the return of the Pride Street festival in August.
A variety of events are being planned for Pride Week, which will run from Aug. 5 to 14. The Pride Street Festival will take place on Saturday, Aug. 13 from 3 to 8 p.m.
“As we prepare for New West Pride in August, we look forward to bringing together the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and allies for events, activities and our street festival,” said the society. “We look forward to sharing space and honouring and recognizing this incredible community.”
Stay tuned for more details. For more information about New West Pride, go to www.newwestpride.ca.