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Pride Month: A look at How Influential LGBTQ+ Canadians Are Celebrating Pride This Year

In continuation of our Pride Month celebrations, we’re spotlighting influential voices in the LGBTQ+ community to gain insight on how they’re honouring pride during these unprecedented times.

Here, a choreographer and art director, Oleg Kasynels, model Kris Lodu, and performance artist Ralph Escamillan share their hopes for future communities and what we can do this year to celebrate their rights and continue the fight for equality.

Ralph Escamillan, Performance Artist and Executive Director of Van Vogue Jam

Photography by Tallulah 

“Pride month for me is a time for remembering moments in our queer history that have shaped us and the rights we appreciate today. The Stonewall Riots, Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, and what happened at Black Cat in L.A., are all moments in time where we fought for our rights and saw change. Being queer today is so easily commodified and capitalized by mass media, and we have to remember that even if we might be celebrated in movies and television, we still have a lot of work to do for BIPOC and LGBTQIA2+ rights.

“During COVID we have continued our Free/By Donation classes with VanVogueJam through online platforms. This has also allowed us to collaborate with other teachers from the world to teach and speak on our VVJ platform, increasing the pool of knowledge my community can access to Ballroom Culture. As I build the Ballroom Community here in Vancouver, B.C., I try to find as many ways as possible to remind my community of the lineage and history of Ballroom. That this culture came from a community of Black and Latnix Queer/Trans peoples that were trying to create safe spaces for people like them. And that we carry, remember and honour their memory and work with pose, walk, ball and 10’s. *Ballroom, in this context, is used as the community term for the events ‘Balls’ where Vogue was created.”

Kris Lodu, Model and Artist

“Pride month means a lot to me because it has taught me to honour myself. By not putting limitations or restrictions on the way I express myself, the way I create art or the way I love. 

“Pride month is also important to me because in a lot of ways it has taught me to carve out space for celebrating pride year-round which includes showing up for people in the ways that they need. I try to support queer people, queer artists, spaces, organizations, and shelters that cater to queer people. We have to make sure that there is a future for them because so many members of our community rely on them. Even though we can’t celebrate in person together, the most important thing is that we are supporting each other during these times.

“I’ve also learned to bring the spirit of pride into my life by honouring and supporting those who have fought and are still fighting for members of our community to feel safe. Whether it’s the ability to hold your partner’s hand in public or being able to access gender-affirming care without barriers. It’s also important to recognize that the work is far from being done. It’s important to actively support and consistently show up for those who want to celebrate who they are but can’t. During pride month and beyond we have to advocate for our queer youth, we have to protect and be there for our Trans community, we have to support Black, Indigenous and POC 2SLGBTQA+ communities, and work alongside them for their liberation from all oppressive systems. Because the bottom line is that not everyone can celebrate pride safely, and there’s still so much work that needs to be done.”

Oleg Kasynets, Choreographer and Art Director

Photography by Lindsay Rosset

“True pride feels, to me, like dancing through life exactly how you want to. Pride is all about including everyone who fosters positivity, getting up fiercer than before every time we fall down, and making our own moves. In honour of Pride Month, I want to create more unapologetic dances, be there for my friends, love, learn more about history and fight for change. I live to be inspired and to inspire others.  Let’s enact and interact, and love each other like never before. The best chapters of our era aren’t going to write themselves.”

Here are are resources and organizations supporting the LGBTQ+ community: