Taking Pride in Quesnel’s LGBTQ2+ community

Pride flag flying in LeBourdais Park in Quesnel. (Frank Peebles photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
The board of the Quesnel Pride Society for 2023. (Frank Peebles photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel Pride Society president Julia Dillabough. (Frank Peebles photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel Pride Society's president Julia Dillabough (left) with past-president Alison Prentice. (Frank Peebles photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

A new president is guiding the Quesnel Pride Society as the LGBTQ2+ community faces new discrimination.

Thankfully, said Julia Dillabough, the society still has the guidance of highly successful leader Alison Prentice staying on now as past-president. It is a slow and amicable handoff, so the gains made following the pandemic are carried on.

“Alison has done amazing work to project this Quesnel Pride Society into what it is today,” said Dillabough at the raising of the Pride flag in LeBourdais Park on June 3, kicking off a month-long celebration of those on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, questioning, two-spirited, and others on the gender/sexual spectrum.

June 10 is the main day of performances, dancing, flamboyant Pride party, and more.

Prentice said the theme this year, Say My Chosen Name, “was in support of the trans members of our community who are facing aggression and attack in the States but also here in Canada in terms of drag shows getting cancelled, and more anti-gay legislation passed in the United States in the first two months of 2023 than all of 2022. Tennessee recently banned drag shows, but they still allow the KKK to meet and protest (as white supremacists), and you really have to think about what that’s saying. Our trans community this year deserves all our support; they are facing miscommunication, misinformation, that is turning into something quite nasty. I’m glad we can support them in Quesnel with our theme.”

Looking back on her two years of presidency, Prentice said she feels most proud of the survey done within the LGBTQ2+ community specific to the Quesnel area, which gives tangible data to their planning processes.

She is also proud of the counselling services that takes a big financial burden off people who are struggling with emotional and intellectual challenges. Young people are especially the recipients of that service and can access qualified counsellors for as little as $10 of their own personal money.

Dillabough said she “saw the opportunity to continue to grow what Alison has established over the past couple of years. We have a strong board, and since that fateful day at City Hall we have a lot more passion behind the board.”

That day was inspired by hate-based pamphlets that were spread around parts of Quesnel. It caused a stirring of LGBTQ2+ support that inspired city council to pass stronger pro-acceptance policies.

“We cannot meet hatred with hatred. We have to show more love,” said Dillabough. Her priorities as new president are to build committees to develop board experience as well as advance key goals in finally getting towards equality. The three committees she wants most are for events, outreach and safety.

They are perhaps the only not-for-profit society in the city that requires members to make personal protection plans out of concern for their bodily harm. For the LGBTQ2+ community individually and as a group, achieving equality comes in the form of basic safety from violence.

Pride WeekQuesnel