Even though COVID-19 has halted Victoria’s pride parade, the city is still finding a way to celebrate.

The Victoria Pride Society has taken their celebrations off the street, and onto the web. They say this year is especially important.

“It’s the 50th year since the very first pride march, which happened in the summer of 1969,” said Jo McFetridge of the pride society, adding. “That march too like things that are happening in today’s society, that march was a protest against police brutality and some of the prejudice and oppression that was begin waged against the queer community in New York.”

This year’s events will include more Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. Virtual events include a drag ball, A play reading and the very popular big gay dog walk — and something special for this year.

“The vicarious drag show,” said McFetridge. “Because a lot of the queer community is focused around the drag and drag performances and they have been missing that.”

READ: Victoria Pride Week celebrations going virtual this year due to COVID-19

The event also plays a major role in uniting the LGBTQ+ community, and the pandemic has impacted some of their members particularly hard.

UVic’s  Nathan Lachowsky,  a community-engaged researcher with UVic’s School of Public Health and Social Policy, says early observations show there are risks around mental health, unmet sexual health needs and limited access to hormone treatments, as well as HIV and other treatments — all a result of the pandemic. 

“It’s important to remember some people int he community experience that in a much starker contrast than we do,” said McFetridge.

“And so that takes on a larger importance for pride, so that people have a venue to come out.”

And Victorians are getting creative to find ways to show their support, The Flag Shop says many are coming in to grab one of the over 30 pride flag designs they carry.

“We carry Bisexual flags, polysexual flags, gay-straight, two-spirited, of course, the transgender flag,” said owner and manager Paul Servos.

“They have come from an evolution of different groups of the pride movement looking for a way to be distinctive. Even though we are not having that large gathering we can have our mini festivals across the city and enjoy and celebrate what has been achieved in the pride community.”

Julian Kolsut