The Vancouver Pride Society announced Mar 28 their plans for expanded festivities this year. Plans include: Gala Dinner, Jun 20; a resurrected Stonewall Festival Jun 26 in Grandview Park and a dance that night at the Wise Hall; Picnic in the Park Jul 24 at Prospect Point; Queerstock, five nights of free acoustical music at Alexandra Park Jul 25-27 and 29, 30; Terry Wallace Memorial Breakfast Aug 1 in Nelson Park; Pride Parade 12-2 pm, Aug 1 (moving along the traditional route); Sunset Beach Festival after the parade Aug 1; and Pride cruises Aug 1 & 2. Dropped from the itinerary is last year’s festival and beer tents on Davie St. Pride chair Shawn Ewing invites other community groups to take over organization of the street festival.
“We’re trying to find our footing and also trying to grow the festival,” says media spokesperson Steven Schelling.
YOUTHQUEST INVITED TO SPEAK
After years of attending and quietly supporting Surrey’s annual anti-bullying forum in memory of Hamed Nastoh, Youthquest members were finally invited to speak this year. A delegation from the rural and suburban queer youth network presented its views on homophobic harassment to the forum, Mar 27. Nastoh killed himself by jumping off a bridge four years ago. His note blamed the bullying he regularly endured; among other things his classmates used to call him a faggot. Though his mother says Nastoh was not gay, she nonetheless asked Youthquest members to share their thoughts this year because, she told Youthquest’s director Monika Chappell, homophobic name-calling hurts.
FRY GETS LIBERAL NOD
Incumbent MP Hedy Fry fended off former city councillor Lynn Kennedy and Taleeb Normohamed to win the Vancouver Centre Liberal nomination for the upcoming federal election. The Mar 21 nomination meeting attracted a large queer contingent to support Fry.
All three candidates presented themselves as queer friendly but it was Fry who walked away with the bulk of 951votes cast.
Fry says she’s helped ensure queers received equality under the law.
KENNEDY STEWART FOR NDP
SFU professor Kennedy Stewart won the nod Mar 28 to represent the NDP in Vancouver Centre in the upcoming federal election. Stewart beat gay man Brian Revel in a second round vote. Revel immediately threw his support behind Steward. “I know Kennedy from years back,” he said. “He cares about issues affecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and trangendered people. He’ll speak for our community. And he speaks for a party that genuinely cares about our issues.”
In related news, gay man Gary Mitchell won the Conservative Party nomination for Vancouver Centre riding Mar 14. Mitchell, who positioned himself as a moderate conservative, beat Paul Philcox, a former member of the Reform Party, for the nomination.
EGALE MEETS IN VANCOVER
MP Svend Robinson told Egale’s national AGM, held Mar 20 in Vancouver, that 2003 was a year of triumphs for Canada’s gay community.
Canada is now the most advanced country in the world when it comes to equality for queers, Robinson says.
Egale spokesperson Gilles Marchildon Marchildon says Egale is working on equality issues for transsexuals through changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Robinson’s bill to extend hate crimes protection to queers is mired in the Senate and the target of a “vitriolic campaign of distortion and lies,” says the MP.
QUEBEC MARRIAGE WINS
Quebec’s Court of Appeal ruled Mar 19 that gay couples should be allowed to get married, effectively immediately. The court was considering an appeal of a 2002 Quebec superior court ruling in favour of same-sex marriage; it rejected the appeal and upheld the ruling. “This is a great day for Quebec and a great day for Canada,” said Bob Gallagher, national coordinator for Canadians for Equal Marriage. “Now same-sex couples can marry in provinces that represent over 70 percent of Canada’s population.”