The Quesnel Pride Society hosted a barbeque celebrating its many volunteers and LGBTQ+ youth in the community Friday, June 10, in the basement of the Billy Barker Hotel.
Free pride t-shirts were provided to each of the 36 youth and 20 volunteers in attendance.
Before the late afternoon meal, society president Alison Prentice shared a special video message to Quesnel’s LGBTQ+ youth from Canadian singer-songwriter Jann Arden.
“You have no idea what wonders await you all, and in your most difficult moment, please note that you are loved, and you are seen,” Arden said. “You have a community that supports you, that will continue to lift you up, protect you, inspire you and acknowledge you.”
“I wish you peace and calmness,” Arden continued. “Don’t take any crap from anybody for who you are.”
Prentice had reached out to Arden and said Arden was more than happy to share the empowering message, especially for them, after she read the results of their community needs survey.
In the last 12 months, half of the survey respondents said they had been the subject of homophobic jokes and slurs, with 37 per cent having been rejected by family and friends. In addition, one of four respondents said they had been threatened, and four per cent were physically assaulted.
Emotional challenges were also widely reported.
“There are a lot of challenges for our youth, and we recognize that. That’s why we wanted to create a safe space just you guys here this afternoon, and also let you know that for those who may have friends who are afraid to come out, we see you, and we will be visible for you,” Prentice said, noting subsidized counselling is available.
“If you need anything, you can come to the Pride Society.”
The afternoon barbecue wrapped up with games and activities, including karaoke and music.
The Quesnel Pride Parade will be held Saturday, June 11, starting at noon from City Hall to LeBourdais Park where vendors and music by DJ Riki Rocket will be available.
A major sponsor is Telus which is donating $2,000 to the Quesnel Pride Society.
Julia Dillabough is Telus’s community and service excellence manager for the Cariboo Chilcotin and previously helped organize the pride parade before the Quesnel Pride Society was formally established in 2019.
“I am very honoured to work for a company that believes in diversity, and supports not only in a verbal way but in a monetary way, so that pride societies, such as Quesnel, can take those dollars and put them toward youth events and once again promote things to move forward and so people can feel comfortable with who they are.”
In communities where such events have yet to be held, Dillabough said volunteers are crucial and that small innovative events such as a picnic could be a start in celebrating pride.
Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.