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Pride Month celebrations on the Sunshine Coast to charge up inclusive community

‘People are showing up and they’re walking together’
Multigenerational marchers at the 2022 Pride March demonstrated high spirits and hospitality.

June’s Pride Month celebrations on the Sunshine Coast will be bigger and more inclusive than ever before, according to organizers. 

“People are showing up and they’re walking together,” said Pride Month committee member Shayne Forster. Forster, who coordinates youth programs for Sunshine Coast Community Services, is working with Laura Smith to plan the Pride March and Festival on June 4. 

“People and organizations are demonstrating that we are this collective community, this fabric of people together,” added Forster. “And I really appreciate that kind of togetherness. It’s real inclusion, a village mentality. We all have our own perspective and wisdom to bring to the table and that’s how it should be.” 

Event organizers are carrying on the work of local queer pioneer Laurie Lesk, who instigated the march and its related festival as a gathering originally called Sunday in the Park With Pride. 

This year’s march and festival in Davis Bay — scheduled for June 4 — marks 45 years since the first Pride Parade was held in Canada. An unofficial celebration of LGBTQ2S+ culture was held in Vancouver in 1978. 

The Sunshine Coast Pride March will be preceded by the launch of a month-long art exhibition at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery. In This Together opens on June 1, featuring work by queer artists on the Coast. The Persephone Brewing Company plans to host a Pride kickoff event on the afternoon of June 3. 

The Pride March parade on June 4 will be led by local drag performer Manly Nipkiss as grand marshall. The parade starts at noon at the Davis Bay pier and ends at Mission Point Park, which will be the family-friendly festival epicentre until 5 p.m. 

The Pride Festival will feature a beer garden and music by local DJs and ongoing stage appearances, including a traditional welcome and blessing by kway?imin Andy Johnson. Gambier Island-based singer-songwriter Estelle Honeywell will perform, as will entertainers Scotty and Faye of Coastal Hosts, who specialize in trivia games. 

Among the booths representing local organizations, new this year will be a seniors’ tent that offers shade and comfortable seating to weary celebrants aged 55 and over. 

Forster, as his drag persona Shaylo, plans to appear alongside the Pine ‘n’ Sandy drag troupe for a show at the Gibsons Legion on June 17. 

A narrated history of the Gibsons area is being offered on June 18 as part of Pride Month. Tour guide Candace Campo of Talaysay Tours will lead a two-spirit and queer-friendly walking tour of Ch’kw’elhp’ titled Spoken Treasures. 

Two dances are scheduled to take place at Roberts Creek Community Hall. The Youth Pride Dance (on June 23) will be followed by the Sunshine Coast Pride Dance on June 24 for people aged 19 and older. 

“There’s a good vibe of all sorts of flavours of queer,” said Curt Lewchuk, one of the dance organizers, “gay dudes and lesbians and gender nonconforming folks. It’s a mix of people who have lived here for a long time combined with a new injection of youthful energy.” 

Over his decade on the Sunshine Coast, Lewchuk has observed growth in queer inclusivity and a boost in allies of the LGBTQ2S+ community. “You never take anything for granted,” he said, “but I think everybody queer here feels like part of the community rather than fighting for it as much.” 

The Gibsons and District Public Library plans film screenings and readings on June 17, while golfers can register at the Blue Ocean Golf Club for the annual Pride Tournament on June 25. 

A full list of all events and related registration links are available by browsing to