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Pride flags fly high ahead of Coquitlam's first community-organized celebrations

More than 100 multi-coloured flags have been placed in popular sites like Town Centre Park to show support for Coquitlam's LGBTQ2S+ community.

Coquitlam is gearing up to host its first-ever community-organized Pride celebration this summer.

To kickstart the season of recognition and inclusion, 115 multi-coloured flags representing the Pride community have been hoisted up streetlights in popular places.

This includes Town Centre Park (pictured above), city hall and in high-traffic areas, will remain in place throughout June and into mid-July, when it hosts its pilot Pride party.

"The Pride flags are a visual representation of the city's support for the LGBTQ2S+ community, along with the rainbow crosswalk that was painted on Burlington Avenue near city hall in 2017 through the advocacy of the Tri-Cities Pride Society," said Manisha Dutta, Coquitlam's manager of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), in a news release.

"The city will also be lighting up Pinetree Way in June with the rainbow colours of the Pride flag.... Such actions help to create a sense of belonging and support the safety of every resident and visitor to our community not only in June, but year-round."

The installments make good on city council's promise to Dr. Charles Best Secondary's Gay/Straight Alliance earlier this year.

Dozens of students made a presentation on Feb. 27 in asking staff to organize a local event as supporters and allies have ventured to Vancouver, Burnaby or New Westminster events to celebrate Pride in past years.

On April 17, Coquitlam's council-in-committee unanimously approved city staff to piggyback on a planned performance at the Evergreen Cultural Centre.

Jumpin' July

Coquitlam groups are putting together Cirque de Coquitlam – a Drag Circus!, followed by a ticketed after-party in the rehearsal hall.

The city has also earmarked $6,000 in honorariums, marketing, security and administration, for the free events taking place before the show.

The Evergreen lobby will be open to the public to take part in activities, family storytime and view displays from three cultural groups that also receive municipal funding:

  • Coquitlam Heritage
  • Coquitlam Public Library
  • Place des Arts

Known as Coquitlam Pride at Evergreen, the celebration is set for July 15 from 12 to 5 p.m. at Evergreen — located at 1205 Pinetree Way. The Cirque show begins at 7:30 p.m.

As well, a day earlier, Queer as Funk is scheduled to perform during Coquitlam's free 2023 Summer Concert Series.

The popular Metro Vancouver LGBTQ2S+ dance band will play two sets of soul, pop and Motown classics on July 14 at the TD Community Plaza in Town Centre Park. More details to be announced later, the city said.

Erasing hate

Requests for Coquitlam to co-host Pride-related events in the city came roughly a month after protesters stood outside the Coquitlam Public Library's City Centre branch to oppose a drag queen story time for families.

The city's EDI committee is hoping local residents can accept and support the LGBTQ2S+ community in contributing to a welcoming place for all.

"Allyship is not a one-time action, it is a journey of support, learning and commitment," Dutta added.

"This is a journey that we, as an organization, are also embarking on with purpose, while keeping the safety of our residents and community top of mind.

"The City of Coquitlam condemns hate in all forms. We are committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment, including people from equity-deserving groups such as LGBTQ2S+, racialized and disability communities."

For more information on Coquitlam's Pride events and commitment to EDI, you can visit the city's website.