Ask any number of members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community what pride is about, and you'll probably get just as many different answers - activism, standing out, fitting in, reflection or celebration.
Now into its second year, the Royal City Pride Society is getting ready to kick off New West Pride 2011, where local pride seems to be about growth and community.
"We're just starting out, and we're not focused so much on the parades and the protesting as much as showing people that we're not really much different than anyone else and we're there to support each other," said society president Andre Hall.
Hall said last year's inaugural pride event was hampered by lousy weather, but he's seen indications that this year's event will be much bigger.
"Last year, because it rained, they estimated there were 300 or 400 people. It was literally pouring the whole time, so no one wanted to sit outside. It was just the diehards that came," he said. "(This year), I am personally estimating at least a thousand if not more."
New West Pride 2011 features 10 events over four days starting on Thursday, Aug. 11 with a free meet-and-greet at the Coming Home CafÃ© on Sixth Street, featuring acclaimed Canadian folk artist Kate Reid.
Pride 2011 kicks into party mode on Friday with the Stonewall Party and Show hosted by Amanda Luv (Hall's popular drag queen persona) at the Heritage Grill. Tickets to the event are $10 at the door.
Saturday, Aug. 13 is the biggest day in the festival, featuring a pre-pride brunch at the Coming Home CafÃ© at 8 a.m. and the return of the popular Hills & Heels event in which participants meet at the Starbucks at Columbia and Sixth streets and hike up the hill in high heels for charity.
Hall is hoping each participant will be able to raise $100, half of which will go to Royal City Pride Society with the rest going to the Lookout Emergency Aid Society.
Hall said he's encouraging participants to dress in "over-the-top and ludicrous" costumes meant to poke fun at the very stereotypes the gay community has had placed on it.
"I guess it was in defiance because that's really not who we are and 'look how ridiculous this looks, this is not how people dress,'" he said.
The Hills and Heels walk ends at the steps of New Westminster City Hall, where New Westminster council is set to read a proclamation officially recognizing Pride Day in New West.
"They're our biggest supporters in the city of New Westminster, and they've made our job a lot easier to put on the festival," Hall said. "I'm not normally a happy person with politicians, but in this case, they're helping enhance the community and enhance our society and show that we're a part of society in New Westminster."
The celebration then spills over into Tipperary Park at 1 p.m., where organizers have arranged for a day's worth of entertainment including Sugarbeach, the Faceplants, Carolyn Neapole, Lance Cardinal, Matthew Presidente and the Dunns. Like last year, Korki the Clown will be in the crowd making balloon ani-mals.
When asked who should come to the events, Hall answers quickly.
"Everyone," he said. "Anyone that's gay or lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, intersexed, queer, allies. If you're human, we want you there. It's a family-friendly event."
Following the party in the park, there is a $20 fundraiser barbecue at the Met Hotel Bar & Grill and the Pride Dance Party at G.I.N. (Gay Bar in New Westminster) at the Heritage Grill - a big hit from last year, Hall said.
"There were 19-year-olds right up to a 95-year-old, and I just laughed because every single person had a great time and melded together," he said.
The pride events close Sunday with a 10: 30 a.m. brunch at the Boathouse and wrap party for volunteers and vendors at the Coming Home CafÃ© at 4 p.m.
Because sponsorship opportunities have been so good this year, almost all of the events are free, Hall said.
See www.royalcitypridesociety.com for the full schedule of events, pledge forms, and sponsorship and volunteer opportunities.