That first-ever Pride parade was a tribute to the Stonewall Riots, an event that sent shockwaves around North America in June 1969, and precipitated days of protests in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, two trans women of colour and LGBTQ activists, played a central role in the events that transpired in New York City on the evening of June 28, 1969 when riots, precipitated by police raiding the well-known gay bar, shone a spotlight on the inequities
Governments, businesses and individuals struggled with how to ensure equality and universal basic human rights for all people regardless of race, colour, creed or gender in the wake of the of large protests that brought attention to the issue.
It's important to remember that, at that time, homosexual acts were illegal in every US state except for Illinois. And, even after a number of 1969 legal reforms in Canada, hundreds of Canadians continued to be charged for consensual gay sex amongst adults.
Fast forward to the past week, when the US Supreme Court passed a decision prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This welcome step forward represents a victory for those who champion equality and universal basic human rights, and is proof that tireless advocacy is often what makes the difference between success and failure.
Closer to home, there have been a number of successes to applaud as local activists for LGBTQ2+ and people of colour have also achieved significant milestones, with many pointing to the establishment of the Trans Care BC program as one of those success stories.
Trans Care BC provincial program director Lorraine Grieves agrees, and highlights Trans Care BC's close ties to trans, Two-Spirit, and gender diverse communities across the province as evidence of the program's integration into the fabric of the community.
"It's so important for trans, Two-Spirit, and gender diverse people and loved ones to be able to access peer-led, gender-affirming support across the province," says Lorraine.
"Through our work, we've had the privilege of working alongside diverse peers, community members and parents/caregivers from around B.C. who have co-created excellent support groups and community care initiatives led by trans and gender diverse community members."
One of these local peers is Lu Lam, a Canadian Certified Counsellor who developed his vision of offering mindfulness services for self-identified Black, Indigenous, Metis, Inuit, multi-racial and/or people of colour who are also of Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary, gender expansive experience – described inclusively with the term TransBIMPoC*.
Last year, Lu launched an eight-week mindfulness program called Uncovering Brilliance, Transforming Racism: this is liberation (UBTR) in Vancouver, supported by a Trans Care BC community grant and community collaborators. With more than 37 grants awarded this year, these grants continue to fund numerous grassroots programs targeting underserved regions of the province and support gender diverse people and their families.
Among the other signs of the program's success are an ever-growing array of resources to enhance and coordinate trans health services and supports across the province that includes:
As people across the Lower Mainland prepare to celebrate the area's annual Pride parade for the 43rd time since 1978 – this time virtually because of COVID restrictions – it's important to look back and remember the tireless activism and community efforts that got us to this point.