Hundreds descended on Holland Park on June 30 for the 2018 Surrey Pride Festival. (Photos: Ryan McLeod)

Hundreds celebrate Surrey Pride at Holland Park

‘My wish is for everyone here to feel free to be here and be themselves no matter who you are’

Ryan-Alexander McLeod, Now-Leader contributor

Colour and smiles were visible at the Surrey Pride Festival at Holland Park last Saturday (June 30).

For the more than 1,000 attendees and 38 vendors at the festival, the music, face painting and good food were merely fun frills on an event centred around fostering inclusion and love for all.

“It’s been more supportive, I feel that Canada is getting more supportive of (LGBTQ2+) rights and I think it will get better every year,” said Alexis Ellis, a guest speaker on behalf of her transgender community at the event.

Not everyone celebrating at the festival were members of the LGBTQ2+ community and Ellis said she was happy to see so many people with open minds.

“It’s so great for us to have people here who want to learn who we are, because this isn’t an easy life, it’s really hard at times but we have this event and hopefully more people will continue to come,” she said.

While standing behind a microphone and speaking publicly for the first time, Ellis said she had some very simple hopes for the day.

“My wish is for everyone here to feel free to be here and be themselves no matter who you are,” she said to a crowd of cheering support.

See also: Surrey’s rainbow crosswalk defaced 10 days after installation

See also: Surrey’s first rainbow crosswalk is installed

And despite white paint being used to deface Surrey’s first rainbow crosswalk just days before the Pride celebration at Holland Park, the day went off without a hitch, said Surrey Pride President Henry Lorteau.

“This is very important, with the history of issues we have been through to finally be in a place where marriage is OK, where our achievements can be celebrated, this is something good we can all rally around,” Lorteau noted.

“I love the inclusivity,” Lorteau added. “We (Surrey Pride leadership core) are all getting older and so it’s great to see the youth out here now seeing what we have been able to accomplish, maybe some of them will be able to take over in the future and lead the way.

“I just want to make sure we say a thank you to all of our allies who have stepped up to the plate and helped out today, without the support of the community of Surrey we wouldn’t be able to put on this event,” said Lorteau.

Surrey RCMP Corporal Elenore Sturko attended Surrey Pride, and said in a tweet that for her, “pride represents a sense of belonging, a sense of acceptance.”

“A rainbow is many shades of different colours uniting to form something beautiful,” Sturko added. “People are like that too, when we unite together it can have beautiful results. Pride is for everyone.”

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