Sunday, September 24, 2023
September 24, 2023

Salt Spring Pride Festival Welcome: You are Needed



Festival Programming Volunteer,

Diverse and Inclusive Salt Spring Island

South of our border, the Human Rights Campaign has declared a state of emergency.

Welcome to the world of 2SLGBTQIA+ Pride 2023. You are needed. From the lesbians and gays who’ve “been there, done that,” to queer kids who struggle to make eye contact in an age of screens; to allies who helped get the gender-neutral signs on bathroom doors only to have them ripped down last month at the Salt Spring library; and most especially to those for whom this will be their first Pride ever! You and your chosen family are the most welcome. It is because of your queer joy that a team of nearly 75 volunteers have come out of their pandemic-ravaged silos to remember that magical healing feeling of connection and belonging.

Why do all these amazing organizers and volunteers spend thousands of hours throwing Salt Spring’s biggest party (and second most financially lucrative event) of the year? Because we’re a messy rainbow of creative, opinionated people who care. Because we’re hurting too. 

Trans and queer folx are hurting worldwide from relentless, daily attacks. Many pay with blood, others with their lives. Our mental health is negatively impacted by the cost of living, lack of services, lack of allies — all rooted in lack of support from parents, educators, politicians and communities. Per capita, our suicide rates are off the charts, especially for our youth. For most, we survive knowing we are hated for who we are, and what we represent. Why? In the early 1970s, one of the five identified factors of homophobia was jealousy. We are reviled for our freedom from society’s stifling box of normativity. Marriage rights, economic class or gender status do not guarantee our collective safety.

Fascism’s playbook needs scapegoats. Control Indigenous lands and women’s bodies, murder people of colour, banish the queers and ban the books. It’s all happening faster than our heads can spin. Trans and queer people, however, play a pivotal, necessarily destabilizing role against the bloated prophets of war and gladiator culture. This is why lawmakers in the States introduced 525 anti-LGBTQ bills and have signed 70 into law so far in 2023, twice the number of similar bills in 2022.

Despite feeling overwhelmed by endless disasters, seemingly too exhausted to do the hard work of stopping the propaganda of denial; corporate-colonized greed seemingly greater than our efforts to do an about-face on the real crises of our times, hand in hand we march on. Despite Russia using “decadent western queers” as their ideological pretext to war, their orgy of violence spawned by a decade full of divisive fake news about trans people in social media, we must stand together. Despite hate-mongering politicians spreading their virus of lies, gleefully jumping into bed with fanatical religious leaders, we choose love, kindness and service. In Canada, we do not get a pass. We have but a bit more lead time to get organized to ally with the most adversely affected.

We need each other. We will not be defined by the haters. We’re not their victims. We’re proud and loud survivors. Let your truth mirror ours, our joy mirror yours. Together, we are this beautiful. Pride means dressing up and dancing to affirm life itself — our collective rights, responsibilities, our privileges to share. This is our first four-day Pride Festival and we’re inviting all islanders to invite your off-island friends to come camp, dance in the streets, then dance some more at the Farmers’ Institute. Let’s join together to reaffirm all that is good in our world: people who help people who recognize nature thrives in diversity.

This year our island youth will be leading the parade. Let them know we are proud of them; that we joyously and unequivocally have their backs.


  1. Thank you for sharing this with our PIMC morning meditation. I can feel your energy in this writing. It energizes me in my own efforts political and social in Milwaukie, Oregon. Onward into love!


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