Written by: Geron Malbas, Peak Associate

A few weeks ago, the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) announced that they would be cancelling their annual Davie Street Block Party. This was due to the approximate cost of the event being over $100,000, a number which would be unreachable unless more sponsors donated. Because of this cancellation, thousands of people will not be able to start Vancouver’s Pride weekend on a high note, as I have been doing for the past few years.

On one hand, the cost seems like an exorbitant amount for any event to have to pay up without the help of donations. However, seeing as the VPS ended the 2016 year with a $50,354 surplus, I question how the 2017 Block Party and Pride Parade happened without consideration of what needed to be done to maintain a surplus. Now, with only weeks away from this year’s Pride weekend, I begin to think about how much more hollow it will feel.

Pride is like Christmas, but for LGBTQ+ individuals. It’s a time where there is so much love and happiness to go around in the community. It’s a time where I can be with my chosen family of friends who love me for who I am, while I am dressed up as comfortably as I like and being as loud and proud as I want.

My first time at the Block Party was in 2016, and it completely changed my experience going into the Pride weekend. The Block Party gets attendees to stick to Davie Village, AKA Gaybourhood, which centres all of the energy into one area. This is in contrast to the Sunday Pride Parade, where that energy seems to be distributed all around downtown.

The Block Party always filled my body and soul with the required energy to help me survive the entire weekend. The same goes for all of my friends, and probably all of the other people who are excited to start the weekend off right by enthusiastically dancing the Friday night away. I have a number of friends whom I would always drag to the Block Party, even if they were already planning to attend the Pride festivities on Sunday, because of the event’s ability to get people to simply enjoy the vibe of an evening party without the expectation of surviving a full-day experience like Sunday Pride. But now, with this part of Pride being cancelled and reimagined for 2019, I feel like Pride just won’t be the same.

With only weeks away from this year’s Pride weekend, I begin to think about how much more hollow it will feel.”

I feel like its cancellation is a reflection of how much the VPS cares about us. If they were truly considerate of how much impact the Block Party had on individuals, pre-emptive measures to ensure its continuation would have been implemented. In fact, in their 2017 annual report, there is an exorbitant increase in advertising and travel expenses. This begs me to question whether or not Pride is really for the people of Vancouver to enjoy, or for the VPS team to fill their pockets.

Taking away the Block Party removes the opportunity for LGBTQ+ youth to ease into the Pride experience and spend their first Pride weekend meeting new people just like themselves. It’s also worth realizing how many queer vendors and art showcases there are during this party, and how such opportunities to have more exposure are now lost. Not only that, but attendees lose an advantageous opportunity to learn more about Vancouver’s gay community. I utilized the event to get used to being unabashedly gay, but I feel like its exclusion from Pride this year takes away the exciting energy that many people would want to have.

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