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VIDEO: Pride 2023 could be bigger than ever

Decades ago, it was mostly gay men, centre stage at pride events.

Today, the protest element of Pride is more focused on advancing rights and acceptance for transgender people.

In the lead-up to Saturday's Pride March and Festival, there are a series of social events on the calendar.

Tonight (Thursday) there is a Drag Show and Social at Friends of Dorothy, and a Trans Pride Celebration at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, with a second gathering at The Art Gallery to watch the show via live stream.

"Going back decades," said Kelowna Pride President Fahmy Baharuddin, "There was a much more visible forefront of cis gay men fighting for that movement, and it's shifted."

Baharuddin said trans people and non-binary people are being attacked just for existing.

"I think it's super important for us to take those people and have them lead the celebrations because it's important for us to acknowledge that they're also part of our community and we need to be there for each other."

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

The appearance of the Pride March and Festival is very celebratory, but deep down, it's an event born out of protest.

"I think fundamentally every pride parade and celebration has, at its core, being a protest," said Baharuddin.

"A lot of people who are celebrating things like this can have their rights taken away from them with every election, with every policy change," he said.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

Baharrudin said Kelowna, in particular still has a long way to go.

"I do have a bit of hesitancy when I'm holding hands with my partner walking down the street," he said.

"There's always a part of me that says maybe this isn't a safe place to do so."

The protests over Kelowna's Drag Queen Storytime in Kelowna were another reminder.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia <who> January 2023

"Acceptance is not everywhere. There are still people that are fighting against just the lived experience of queer communities."

But that doesn't mean there isn't plenty to smile about during Pride Week.

"To celebrate how far we've come as a society, so we want to also be able to celebrate the good things that have happened and how far we've come."

People will start arriving for the Pride March at 10 am Saturday, with the march at 10:30 am.

The Festival is at 11 am, and organizers have brought back a beer and beverage garden to make it even more festive.

Details about all the events are here.

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