Nanaimo Pride Week has officially kicked off for the 21st year.
The Pride Flag now flaps beside the City of Nanaimo flag at City Hall after a ceremony on Wednesday, June 6. All throughout the week there's LGBTQ2 events, culminating in Saturday's Pride parade.
Nanaimo Pride president Lauren Semple told NanaimoNewsNOW the flag raising is a sign of triumph after years of struggle.
"There was a time, in 2005, when we wouldn't raise the flag in Nanaimo. There was no Pride Week proclemation read. It wasn't too long ago mayor (Gary Korpan) refused to sign the proclemation. We've come a long way in those 21 years."
Despite a relatively broad acceptance across North America, with Pride parade's drawing millions of watchers and celebrity guests, Semple said "It's more than just a parade, it's a protest."
"We see countries legalizing marriage for same-sex couples, but that's only 26 countries in the world that actually allow couples to live what I call queerly ever after. We're still fighting for the right to pee in the bathrooms we want to pee in."
Semple said you can see the ongoing discrimination in the comments section of stories about Pride Week and rainbow crosswalks, but overall Nanaimo is an accepting community.
"That's what really brings the Nanaimo community together, is wanting to stand against discrimination. And Nanaimo does it so well. We have a really beautiful community feel to our Pride Week."
Though the flag was raised on Wednesday, weekly events started the previous Monday.
On Thursday, June 7, there's a youth dance, followed by a 19+ Pride dance on Friday.
The week finishes on Saturday with the 3rd annual Pride parade and festival, starting downtown and winding into Maffeo Sutton Park at noon, followed by the official afterparty Saturday night.
On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit
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