3 min

Davie BIA needs us

Renew it or risk losing the rainbows

Credit: Xtra West files

It’s no secret that I moved here because of the rainbows. Some of you might remember the story. My partner and I took a Greyhound trip across the continent three years ago, searching for the perfect gay village to call home. We found it here, in the Davie Village, and we haven’t looked back.

I’ve been living, breathing, playing and working under the rainbows for two and a half years now.

Two and a half years of passing my brothers and sisters on the street, many strolling hand-in-hand, and smiling at them as I go about my daily life.

Two and a half years of coming home to a place where I feel like I truly belong.

Now it could be in jeopardy.

The Davie Village Business Improvement Association (BIA) is up for renewal, and if it doesn’t get the nod, my rainbows could come crashing down around me.

And that would be a huge loss for us all. We can’t afford to lose our BIA, especially after all it’s accomplished for us in the last year.

Just look at the things it’s done.

It renewed its commitment to promote the Village as a gay tourist destination and is now working hard to make our neighbourhood attractive to local and international queers alike.

It’s working with the Davie St community policing centre to address safety concerns such as gaybashing and the incursion of criminals and hard-core drug dealers into our neighbourhood.

It supported the Pride Society in its bid to host the first-ever Davie St Fair, and helped shut the strip down for a party for Pride.

It even drafted a new mission statement specifically naming the Davie Village as the heart of Vancouver’s gay community.

In short, the Davie BIA has come back to life with a bang, resurrecting its gay roots and pouring new life back into them.

Quite a contrast with the previous BIA directors-many of whom wouldn’t even admit that the gay community had any special claim to the Village at all.

The new and improved BIA even scrapped the old administration’s rainbow-reluctant logo, and replaced it with a clear rainbow stripe flanked by images of Joe Average’s bright, sunny banner.

“We have to make sure we’re reflecting what the Davie Village is all about,” says the BIA’s new president, Randy Atkinson.

And what it’s about is identity.

“That sense of identity is so important,” he says. Just because gays and lesbians might soon win the right to marry across Canada, doesn’t mean they’ll automatically have a street they can walk down holding hands.

The community still needs a place to call home, he says. It’s about validation. It’s about creating a space “where simply walking down the street, simply being there, is validating.”

It’s about empowerment.

And tonight, at the Davie BIA meeting, it will hopefully be about renewal.

I, for one, will be there, and I hope all of you will join me as the BIA presents its mandate for the next five years and asks for your feedback and support.

But that’s just step one.

Even if the BIA’s members vote to renew it, it still faces one more important problem. It’s about to lose almost all of its directors.

Now, some of that is just due to natural turn-over. A few board members, such as Abasa Optical’s Azra Kamrudin and her sister, Anar Mawji, have put in several years of service and are ready for a break.

Others simply quit.

The point is, for a variety of reasons, the BIA will most likely be down to just three board members for the coming year.

And that’s not enough. We can’t ask them to do everything by themselves. We have to help them out. We have to urge the other gay and lesbian business and property owners on Davie St (between Burrard and Jervis) to join the BIA board right away.

We have to tell them how much we value our Village.

Before our rainbows come crashing down around us.

* The Davie Village BIA will hold its public renewal meeting Sep 17 at 7 pm at the Sands Hotel. Its annual general meeting, where it will elect a new board of directors, will take place Sep 25, at 7 pm at the Sands Hotel.

Robin Perelle is Staff Reporter for Xtra.