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Pride on the east side

Dyke March and Stonewall return

TAKING TO THE STREETS. Raising the visibility of women during Pride Week. Credit: Rosamond Norbury photo

The days are getting longer and warmer and people are emerging from their winter lairs to enjoy the beaches and the weather. The summer’s Pride celebrations are just around the corner.

As with years past, Vancouver is host to a smorgasbord of parties, festivals, parades and other events that strengthen the city’s reputation as a distinct queer travel destination.

In advance of this year’s Pride Week celebration, Jul 25-31, Xtra West takes a look at some of the pivotal community events outside the West End.

The Dyke March returns after its successful debut last year on Commercial Dr. “We wanted to bring Pride celebrations to the east side of Vancouver,” says organizer Michelle Walker. “Our primary goal is to raise the visibility of women during Pride Week. There have been marches in the past. We are joining dozens of other [cities] across the world, including in Toronto, that do dyke marches during Pride Week.

“We are painting ourselves as the Pride event for women. It’s all-inclusive-women, family-friendly, dog-friendly. It’s really about raising visibility for women who love women and their allies and friends.”

On the morning of Sat Jul 30, McSpadden Park will play host to a community art project as well as lots of live entertainment, says Walker. At noon, the march will leave McSpadden Park and work its way along Commercial Dr to Grandview Park where revellers will enjoy a post-march live music festival.

Walker says the final entertainment lineup hasn’t been finalized yet but she promises it will top last year’s successful celebration.

As well as being a great complement to the Vancouver Pride Society’s (VPS) events in the West End, Walker says the Dyke March is a great alternative for those looking for a more relaxed celebration on Pride Weekend.

“There are no floats. Everyone walks but we had a few bicycles last year,” she says. “We’re not commercial, we’re a grassroots organization.”

There are a couple of fundraising events leading up to the Dyke March. Jun 25 is their next regular Hot and Horny night at Lick’s. It’s inclusive. Everyone’s welcome. “It’s typically a burlesque kind of night.” says Walker.

As well, on Jul 17, there will be a Dyke March pep rally at Celebrities. Details for that event are still being ironed out.

Sat Jun 25 the VPS is hosting the Stonewall celebration again this year, after successfully resurrecting it last year. Stonewall, which wasn’t originally a VPS event, faded away a few years ago.

“We decided we needed to have an event on the east side,” says VPS president Shawn Ewing. “People said ‘what about Stonewall?’ It was great-sort of a neat community celebration in the park.”

This year, Stonewall is a festival at Grandview Park and a dance at the WISE Hall in the Commercial Dr neighbourhood.

“Stonewall has always been the Pride celebration weekend in San Francisco and Seattle,” continues Ewing. “The Vancouver event was a celebration of the Stonewall riots in the States. Basically it’s more about the launch of the gay liberation movement.

“Vancouver’s Stonewall is a miniature version of the Sunset Fair on Pride Day. It’s a little bit different. It’s more community oriented, smaller in scale and more community focused. That’s sort of the traffic we wanted to draw from.

As for the dance, Ewing says “there’s no pretense. Stonewall is a neighbourhood and community kind of dance. The short, the fat, the tall, the skinny-people don’t really care about what they wear or what other people wear. It’s just about going out and having a good time.”

The VPS hasn’t yet finalized the entertainment line-up for the Stonewall Festival, but Ewing says it promises to be a “kick-ass event” that’s “cheap like borscht” with more vendors and entertainment than last year.

“I’m hoping that more people will take advantage of it from the West End and make the trek over,” she says.

Both the Dyke March organizers and the VPS have loads of opportunities for the community to get involved on a volunteer basis. All the Pride events depend on the sweat equity of local volunteers for their successes.

“We could always use more volunteers,” says Ewing. “But we’ve had a fairly decent turn-out of people who have signed up so far.”

There are plenty of things to do leading up to and during Pride Week, so keep an eye on Xtra West’s Out in the City listings and don’t miss our Ultimate Pride Guide in the Jul 21 issue.