The history of the global LGBTQ community is a long one, generations in fact. But for many, the modern fight for gay rights began in earnest in New York City on June 28th 1969, better known as the Stonewall Riots. It was here that gays, lesbians, drag queens and all members of the LGBTQ community came out of a gay bar and fought the police raids of that nightclub, at that time one of only a few safe spaces for our community to gather.
Pride Celebrations around the world are held every year around this time to remind us of the fights, the battles, the struggles that the LGBTQ community has overcome and the victories we have achieved. Today we are reminded that the world still has a long way to go in that fight against hatred and for equal rights.
In Canada we in the LGBTQ community are fortunate to have equal rights. We are allowed to have a same sex partner and to marry who we want. We should feel safe walking down the street holding hands with our partner and friends. It’s been 38 years that we have been celebrating Vancouver Pride. We are fortunate to have a Prime Minister, a mayor and many other elected officials march and celebrate along with us. They raise our Pride flags in parks, City Hall, and for the first time this year on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
We have come far, but this past Sunday we are reminded of how far there is to go as 49 people from our community lost their lives to hate. Dozens more are fighting for their lives as a result of the same hate fuelled rampage. Here, across the continent, we share in the sense of loss and anger the people of Orlando are experiencing. As members of the LGBTQ community we search for a way to channel the anger we feel as a community. The answer: the same way the LGBTQ community always has done – by standing together with strength, understanding and LOVE.
As Vancouver heads into the beginning of our Pride Celebrations, there is no doubt that it will have a bit of a different tone this year. As we celebrate the diversity of our community, and the rights as Canadians we have, we are also reminded of the battles that are still ahead, and that HATE towards us still exists. We will be remembering those within the LGBTQ community who have stood against hate and who have lost their lives. Harvey Milk, the rioters in New York City, Jim Deva, and now those in Orlando. These are the people that have gotten us to where we are today, and we look to our community leaders that will take us the rest of the way.
The Kerasiotis Family has been part of our LGBTQ Community since 1975 at its nightclub Luv Affair. When the Family purchased Celebrities Nightclub on Davie Street they continued serving the LGBTQ Community and fighting alongside of them since 1982. That feeling of belonging still exists with Celebrities and the entire Blueprint family today. We offer our deepest condolences to those that have lost loved ones in Orlando Florida, and we at Celebrities Nightclub and Blueprint will continue to fight for equal rights for all as we Celebrate Pride 2016.