South Okanagan-Similkameen 2SLGBTQIA+ community hosting Pride month events all over to show support

Support quiets ongoing hate

"It's a way for us to celebrate our identities but also it's a call out to our allies to say 'Please stand with us.'"

Nest Saturday will kick off numerous celebrations for Pride Month and events centered on the 2SLGBTQIA+ community throughout the South Okanagan-Similkameen.

Heather Adamson, Communications Director for the South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society, said they're excited to be hosting so many events throughout the region this year.

"Because we're a regional pride society, we really hope that people who live in all of the communities are feeling supported and feeling that they're being represented and that their everyday lives are reflected in the communities that they live," she added.

"We're trying to disperse our events as much as possible throughout the region and have reached out to community members that live in the communities, asking them what they'd like to see and getting assistance from those folks who live in those communities to help spearhead the planning and events and and getting them all together."

This also includes one of the biggest events of the year, Pride in the Vines, on Saturday June 15 at See Ya Later Ranch.

There's also the Walking & Rollin event on June 2, a Pride Parade down Lakeshore Drive in Penticton or the Silent Disco Pride Dance at Oliver Wine Village on June 29.

Adamson encourages everyone in the community and allies alike to come to the events.

"We always welcome allies to attend any of our events. We know that a lot of folks in our communities, especially who are just coming out, sometimes they don't even have friends yet in the queer community. So they're safe people are allies," she said.

"Their safe people could be their best friend or their sibling, or their parent. Allies are so important."

Unfortunately, their organization has noticed an ongoing rise in hate over the past few years.

"It's important for us to just continue to stay visible and to remind the general public that it's so important for us to feel safe in our communities, to feel safe in our places of work and to feel safe in our own homes," Adamson added.

"Stand shoulder to shoulder with us and help us feel safe in our communities, so that we know that we're supported, and it just helps us deal with the discrimination and prejudice that we still have to deal with."

During this month, the SOS Pride Society encourages the public to show support for Pride Month by hanging a Pride flag, making a donation to a local 2SLGBTQIA+ organization or youth group, or volunteering your time.

Adamson said there are also great resources online to learn about how to be an ally and support the community.

"I would say, if you have someone in your life, who is in our community, whether it's a friend or a family member, just have a conversation with them about 'Hey, what do you need from me? How can I show up for you?'" she added.

"Because we all have different needs, and we're all kind of facing different barriers depending on our identities.
Some of us have a lot of intersectional identities as well in terms of gender, in terms of race, in terms of religion, culture, socioeconomic status, etc. So some of us in our community are facing a lot more barriers than others."

According to SOS Pride, the six-stripe Gay Pride Flag is derived from the original Pride flag design created by Gilbert Baker. The colours have their own separate meanings and this flag is meant to represent the entire Pride community, in addition to being the main flag for gay men.

The Intersex-Inclusive Pride flag was created in 2021 by Valentino Vecchietti, and was an expansion on the progress flag, which was made to include both genderqueer and non-binary, to also be more inclusive of intersex people.

Vecchietti said the flag represents natural diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics.

More information about the different flags can be found in the SOS Pride flag gallery here.

For further information about Pride Month, including support and resources and upcoming events, visit the SOS Pride website here.

More events will may be added throughout Pride Month so keep an eye on their website and social media.

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