Pride march for queer people of colour creates critical space for healing

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On August 1, nearly 200 people gathered at Victory Square in Vancouver for the Two Spirited Queers, Trans, Intersexed, and Bisexual People of Colour Pride March.

The march was organized as an addition to pride celebrations this past week to create a safe place for Vancouver's LGBT2SA community of colour and as an act of solidarity with Black Lives Matter Vancouver.

Marchers walked from Victory Square to CRAB Park. (Lenee Son/rabble)

In light of the Orlando nightclub shooting in June and ongoing police brutality violence against racialized communities, Black Lives Matter urged the Vancouver Pride Society and the Vancouver Police Department to focus on inclusion of queer communities of colour and to withdraw militarized police presence from future Pride events. 

Roger Blenman shares his experiences with racial profiling in Metro Vancouver during a healing circle at the event. (Lenee Son/rabble)

At the 2SQTIBIPOC Pride march on Monday, teacher Roger Blenman, spoke out on racial profiling and anti-Black racism. After moving to Metro Vancouver in the early 1990s, one of Blenman's first experiences was being stopped by the police on King George highway.

"The policeman began our conversation by saying, 'You guys think you can get away with anything,'" recalled Blenman, "I had felt I had no friends. I felt I had no connections in the province and that there was nothing I could do."

An Indigenous member of the queer community leads participants in honoring the land and ancestors. (Lenee Son/rabble)

Fatima Jaffer, founder of the local chapter of South Asian LGBT organization Trikone, explained that especially for queer and racialized communities who are affected in intersecting ways, events like the 2SQTIBIPOC Pride march is critical for healing.

2SQTIBIPOC Pride march participants at Victory Square. (Lenee Son/rabble)

"Today was about giving us a space. Taking space in the city at Pride time -- at a time that is really important to remember the importance of our visibility and our existence," said Jaffer. 

White allies form a circle around members of the queer community of colour during the opening healing circle at Victory Square. (Lenee Son/rabble)

Jaffer also dispelled any hearsay of the 2SQTIBIPOC Pride march being an alternative to Vancouver's Pride march. Instead, Jaffer emphasized the importance of solidarity within the queer and ally communities.

"Trikone, my own organization supported Black Lives Matter by withdrawing from the Vancouver Pride festival," said Jaffer. "We were one of the ones who pulled out but we don't in any way see the people who participated in Pride as 'them.' We are all 'us.'"

A couple march with a pride flag down Pender street. (Lenee Son/rabble)

Multi-strategies are extremely important," Jaffer continued, "The visibility of us in Pride march and the refusal to feel that we are not welcome is as important as the people who stood out and said, 'here are our issues and here are our problems and let's re-politicize pride.' All of our voices are important -- there is no us and them. We stand together."

Allies halt traffic for marchers to pass through the street. (Lenee Son/rabble)

The 2SQTIBIPOC Pride march had no police presence. White allies acted as traffic and security marshals as members of the queer community of colour marched from Victory Square down Pender Street through China Town to Main Street and then to CRAB Park

The march walked through China Town towards CRAB Park. (Lenee Son/rabble)

A healing circle was held at CRAB Park, where attendees were encouraged to share their feelings and thoughts in safety. Afterwards, the queer community of colour and allies alike joined hands to end the march with a song. "We shall overcome!" sang the crowd. 

Imtiaz Popat, organizer of the 2SQTIBIPOC Pride march. (Lenee Son/rabble)

Imtiaz Popat, co-organizer of the 2SQTIBIPOC Pride march and member of queer Muslim group Salaam, said that he was pleased with the turnout at the march.

"I'm really happy about today's gathering of two-spirit, queer, trans, and bi people of colour and this march that we did to claim our space and have a healing circle at the end, because not a lot of us are feeling included in the pride weekend and this is making space for that so we can all be included and celebrate pride"

 

Lenee Son is a freelance multimedia journalist based in metro Vancouver. Follow her on Twitter @LeneeSon

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