The Vancouver Pride Society on Tuesday announced this year’s Pride parade grand marshals.
Catherine White Holman, a respected counsellor and queer activist who died in a float-plane crash in November, will be recognized as this year’s posthumous Pride hero.
This year’s local hero will be Barb Snelgrove.
And Nikolai Alekseev and Candis Cayne will be celebrated in the international hero and role model categories, respectively.
This summer’s Pride events will focus on homophobic nations and laws that continue to criminalize the gay community. Vancouver Pride Society president Ken Coolen, who is out of town and unavailable for comment, said in a press release that it is important not to forget the battles that have been won here in Canada.
“Pride is a celebration of the progress made by the LGBT community throughout the past decades,” Coolen said in the release. “Yet, we must continue to raise awareness of the LGBT rights movement everywhere to ensure a safer tomorrow for everyone.”
Holman co-founded the Three Bridges healthcare clinic and wrote the Guidelines for Transgender Care and Care for Transgender Adolescents, used internationally. She also provided queer sensitivity training to medical students at the University of British Columbia and was considered a light to many in the community.
Shaira Holman, Catherine’s spouse and artistic director of the Pride in Art Society, says what really stood out about Catherine was how she touched the lives of everyone she encountered.
“I think that was really her gift, that she was able to find the light in people and show it back to them,” says Shaira.
It is a bittersweet realization for her that Catherine’s work is being rewarded only now, when she isn’t here to experience it.
“I wish she could be here because she would really appreciate it,” says Shaira. “I think it’s a really beautiful thing.”
Shaira is now 765 kilometres into a 4,000-kilometre trek across Canada to honour Catherine’s memory and to raise funds for queer people living in poverty.
Snelgrove will be recognized for her 13 years as a volunteer, organizer and mentor within the gay community. Her countless titles and contributions include past board member of both the Vancouver Pride Society and Qmunity, current member of the Vancouver City Hall LGTTBQ Advisory Committee and emcee of the Pride Festival Stage, Stardom Ball and The Feud.
“I’m honoured and truly humbled to have been nominated. To be appreciated by your peers and community in such a manner has left me a little gobsmacked, quite frankly,” Snelgrove says.
The local hero says she hasn’t even had time to watch the Pride parade in past years, as she’s been so busy volunteering.
“If I have the time to give, I’m always willing to help out,” she says.
Alekseev founded Moscow Pride and continues to march every year, despite constant clashes with the law. After being arrested during the first Moscow Pride, Alekseev took on gay activism as a full-time job and has since received multiple awards for his work in Moscow, London and Los Angeles.
Candis Cayne is a transgendered model, actress and performer from Hawaii. In 2007, she became the first transgendered actress to play a recurring transgender character on a network television show: Dirty, Sexy Money. She also co-choreographed the hit comedy, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.
This year’s Pride parade will take place on Sunday, August 1 starting at noon.