August 13, 2014 - 3:55 PM
KELOWNA – The president of the Okanagan Pride Society says he has recently noticed a shift in acceptance towards the LGBT community from around the Okanagan.
Wilbur Turner is one of the organizers of the annual Okanagan Pride march and festival taking place all week. He says although turnout in the last few years has steadily increased, it has not been an easy path.
“Over the years it’s been a bit of a struggle and there hasn’t been a lot of support,” he says. “Now it’s tipped the other way and last year a lot of straight people came to the march and the festival and that means a lot to the LGBT community.”
Okanagan pride started six years ago as just a march, but Turner says over the last couple years he has noticed more participation, especially from outside the LGBT community.
“We were really surprised last year because we had almost 400 people, which was a huge increase from prior years,” he says. “It shows the LGBT community that we’re welcome here.”
The event started last Saturday but the main attraction takes place this weekend at Jubilee Bowl in City Park. There will be an opening ceremony with a speech by acting mayor Colin Basran, Pooches on Parade, live entertainment, a beer garden and a march from Stuart Park to City Park. There will also be a special presentation Friday of a painting based on a mural that graces the walls of the old Okanagan Pride Centre on Water Street.
One of the biggest draws, says Turner, is the 3rd annual drag competition taking place Friday at 8 p.m. Last year the event sold out and will likely do so again this year.
“There are only a few tickets left,” Turner says. “It’s a really fun show.”
The march starts Saturday at noon and participants are asked to wear pride colours to show their support.
“It’s a fun, free event for family and friends of the LGBT community,” he says. “It’s not a parade. You don’t just sit and watch you get to be in it.”
For a complete schedule of events visit the Okanagan Pride website.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014