Kelowna Satisfaction calls on group to assist stand towards ‘wave of hatred’
The Kelowna Pride Society and several other organizations and individuals have released a joint statement that calls for the end of a “deeply concerning” trend.
According to the organization, the trend is “increased mobilizations by anti-trans and anti-2SLGBTQIA+ actors,” which has “affected our ability to carry out events safely, free from harassment and abuse.”
Kelowna Pride says that this has led to an atmosphere of fear and intimidation for trans and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities who are looking to organize and hold community events.
“We think it is crucial to come together now and stand as a community against this wave of hatred,” the statement noted. “We also believe it is important to educate the public and our political representatives so that they may stand with us as allies.”
It’s connected to national and global trends, Kelowna Pride adds, as we are living through times of significant attack on trans and 2SLGBTQIA+ rights in BC, Canada and beyond.
According to the organization, there have been at least 166 actions against drag events in North America over the last 12 months and several of them have involved violence.
And the Okanagan is not immune to those instances, as Kelowna Pride listed several developments that have happened locally over the past year:
- Kelowna Trans Pride March 2022 was disrupted by a street preacher who shouted abusive, highly transphobic messages at attendees over an electric speaker.
- Kelowna Bike Pride 2022: same disruption as above.
- Protest by an extreme right linked online influencer/activist at Kelowna Pride 2022.
- A protest against the Queer Youth Halloween Drag and Dance in Kelowna on Oct. 27 in which protestors made entirely false and highly offensive accusations about the alleged sexualization of children.
- Challenges organizing publicly for Transgender Day of Remembrance in November in Kelowna, with organizers citing safety and security risks connected to rising attacks on trans communities. This echoes trends elsewhere in Canada in 2022.
- A protest against a drag event at DunnEnzies in Kelowna on Dec. 7 at which a 2SLGBTQIA+ community member was allegedly assaulted by a protester. Prior to the event, organizers received harassing messages including death threats.
- A protest against a 19+ drag event in Penticton on Dec. 9.
- A coordinated campaign to elect anti-2SLGBTQIA+ candidates to school boards across BC.
- A set of coordinated campaigns against SOGI 123 (an inclusive education program) involving conspiratorial ideas about 2SLGBTQIA+ people.
- A campaign against a planned Drag Story Time event on Jan. 28 at Downtown Kelowna Library, involving an online petition and threats of violence against attendees.
- As of Jan. 16: Reports of plans for an anti-2SLGBTQIA+ billboard to go up in West Kelowna, and to disrupt a future event in Enderby.
“We refuse to let this rising tide of intolerance go unchallenged,” the statement released today reads. “We stand together with our trans and gender diverse and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, particularly our trans and gender diverse youth.”
Kelowna Pride and these other organizations and individuals are asking elected representatives and policy makers to take active measures to ensure the safety of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.
They’re also calling on their wider local and provincial communities to stand with them in solidarity in 2023 and beyond, “to challenge this wave of hatred and help ensure this timeline stops now.”
Here’s who is a part of the joint statement released today:
- Essie’s Place
- Free Parent Hugs Kelowna
- Health Initiative for Men
- Kelowna 50+ Pride Network
- Kelowna Pride Society
- Living Positive Resource Centre
- Pacific Trans Wellness
- Rebellious Unicorns
- South Okanagan Similkameen PRIDE
- Third Space Charity
- This Space Belongs to You
- TransParent Okanagan
- dr Wayne Broughton, SD23 Trustee
- Chantelle Desrosiers, SD23 Trustee
- Val Johnson, SD23 Trustee
- Ella Lamoureux
- Emmett MacMillen, Co-Director, Okanagan Gender Identity Group
- Jade Walters, Co-Director, Okanagan Gender Identity Group
- Frieda Whales