After an exciting year for the Surrey Pride Society, we are looking forward to a busy and even more inclusive 2023.
When the inaugural Pride Festival was held in 1999, there was no society registered at that that time. Prior to 2022, for at least a decade, the only mandate was to host the annual Pride festival. Surrey Pride Society changed its mandate and bylaws so we could, legitimately, after 23 years, become engaged in what the city was going to look like moving forward in terms of inclusion, diversity, social justice, housing and a seat at the table with the players.
In early 2023, we became a pillar in the social justice coalition, “We Belong.’ Thank you UNITI 4 ALL and all the pillar partners.
The Pride Society enjoyed some huge successes in 2022 – and that’s in no small part due to the fact that our current board is the most inclusive, diverse and committed to inclusion, social justice and equality in the history of Surrey Pride.
Last year’s festival – the most successful in our history – drew more than 3,000 people. Ans with participation online in a dialogue about the history of LGBTQ Surrey, and the exhibit at the Surrey Museum we had a reach of over 50,000. And in addition, we had the festival recorded and edited and views reached 5,000.
We joined the Surrey Board of Trade and that opened so many more doors of opportunity and acceptance that I have not seen nor received in 23 years of representing my community. We were nominated for the SBoT excellence awards in the non-profit category.
We look forward to working with the Surrey Board of Trade, city staff and the new mayor and council to ensure we as a community have folks who will listen to – and hear – the needs of this marginalized, stigmatized and too-often targeted community.
What do the numbers and letters 2SLGBTQQIA+ mean you ask? 2 Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer, Questioning, Intersex and Allies. There are some within our own community who ask that question also, and where do the letters and numbers go? BIPOC comes to mind as it is sometimes thrown in there as an after thought. Black, Indigenous and People of Colour make up a large percentage of the Rainbow community.
In Surrey, some have expressed concerns about using the numbers and letters when addressing the community in private or public. Many worry about missing a letter or reciting them in the wrong order.
What order? There is no order.
So, rather then being known as the “alphabet soup and numbers community”, Surrey Pride has gladly embraced the term Rainbow Community. This serves as all inclusive, and in our opinion works to unite, stand together and remain a strong community that cares about all its members and allies.
We want to let everyone who identifies with any one of the letters associated with the Rainbow Community know that Surrey Pride is here to be of assistance, to let you know that it is OK, and that it does get better.
If there are any venues in the city interested in hosting drag shows or drag queen bingo nights in a safe space, please let us know. The Rainbow Community does not have an official gathering place, office, funding or resources to provide in person assistance or services.
If you would like to reach out and find resources or ask any questions, please visit us at surreypride.ca. The website also has pages with references to resources should anyone need them. There is also an events page for our upcoming events.
Martin Rooney is president of the Surrey Pride Society.