Here in PoCo we’re celebrating Pride on Saturday, July 24th! But this year also marks the 40th anniversary of the first official Pride Parade in British Columbia. A lot has happened both before and after this momentous event to make Pride what it is today in Port Coquitlam, BC, and Canada. We invite you to scroll through our timeline and biographies to learn about some of the people and events that made Pride possible.
A Brief Timeline of LGBTQ2+ History
in Port Coquitlam, BC, and Canada
Criminal Law Amendment Act decriminalizes homosexuality. It received royal assent on June 27, one day before the Stonewall Riots in New York.
Approximately 100 people from Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and surrounding areas gathered at Parliament Hill for We Demand, the first large-scale, public protest for gay rights in Canada. They presented a brief to the federal government with 10 demands for gay rights.
At the same time, a smaller group of activists also rallied at Robson Square in Vancouver.
Photograph by Jearld Moldenhauer. Courtesy of The Arquives.
The first unofficial Pride celebration in BC took place in Vancouver at Ceperley Park. The Gay Alliance Towards Equality organized a picnic and art exhibition. This event would inspire Pride week in cities across the country.
Rupert Raj founds Canada’s first national transgender publication.
Photo courtesy of queerevents.ca
The Toronto police arrested over 300 men during the Bathhouse Raids. These coordinated raids, known as ‘Operation Soap’, was the largest arrest in Toronto’s history at the time. It is often considered Canada’s ‘Stonewall’ event.
The next day, 3,000 people marched together to the 52nd Division police precinct and Queen’s Park in protest.
In May approximately 200 lesbians attending the fifth Bi-National Lesbian Conference marched through downtown Vancouver chanting “Look over here, look over there, lesbians are everywhere!” This march is considered the precursor to the annual Dyke March now held around the world.
On August 1st Vancouver holds its first official Pride Parade. Over 1,500 people attend.
Photo courtesy of The West End BIA.
ZAMI, the first Black and West Indian queer group in Canada, is founded in Toronto. It became a support group for people who experienced racism in the LGBTQ community and homophobia in their other communities. They took part in Pride Day marches, held social events, and wrote newsletters to speak out against racism in white queer organizations.
Svend Robinson, MP for Burnaby, becomes the first openly gay member of parliament.
Photograph by Phillip Hannan.
During the 3rd annual Gathering of Native American Gays and Lesbians in Winnipeg, Myra Laramee introduces the term ‘Two-Spirit’. Albert McLeod proposed they adopt the term to describe a wide range of traditional Frist Nation conceptions of gender and sexuality.
Jamie Lee Hamilton, a transgender woman of Métis and Cree descent, runs for Vancouver City Council. She is the first transgender person to run for political office in Canada.
Photo courtesy of the Georgia Straight.
Bill C-33 adds sexual orientation to the Canadian Human Rights Act. It makes it illegal to discriminate based on someone’s sexual orientation.
Bill C-38 gives same-sex couples the legal right to marry. This made Canada the fourth country in the world to allow same-sex marriage.
Photograph by Joshua Roberts/ Bloomberg.
When Vancouver hosted the 2010 Olympics they included a Pride House for LGBT athletes for the first time. Pride House, which has continued to be included in Olympic Villages since 2010, was both an education centre and a safe space.
Mike Farnworth, the MLA for Port Coquitlam, runs for the leadership of the BC NDP. If elected he would have been the first openly gay leader of a provincial political party in Canada.
Photo courtesy of bcndpcaucus.ca
On June 1, the first day of Pride Month, the rainbow flag is raised on Parliament Hill for the first time.
Photo courtesy of CTV News.
Bill C-16 amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to include gender identity and expression. It makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or expression. It also amends the Criminal Code to include protection for both terms against hate speech, and makes it a hate crime to discriminate against someone for being transgender.
The Tri-Cities Pride Society is started to advocate for LGBTQ2+ communities in Port Moody, Coquitlam, and Port Coquitlam. They do a mixture of advocacy, social events, and consultation.
Image courtesy of Tri-Cities Pride Society.
The City of Coquitlam installs a rainbow crosswalk on Burlington Drive, next to city hall.
Rainbow crosswalks were popularized in BC as a way to show support for LGBTQ2+ communities after Vancouver revealed Canada’s first rainbow crosswalk in 2013.
PoCo unveils the Pride Public Art Project in Leigh Square. It’s designed by local artist, Steve Baylis. The painted tiles around the fountain represent the Pride and Transgender Flags.
People to Know
Click on the images below to learn more about the people whose activism and bravery have helped shape public perception, Pride, and politics surrounding LGBTQ2+ issues in Canada.
The first openly gay member of parliament in Canada.
Jim Deva & Bruce Smyth
The founders of Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium in Vancouver. They launched a monumental court case against Canadian Customs for discrimination.
A political activist who campaigned tirelessly for the decriminalization of homosexuality.
Co-founder of Zami and activist known for speaking out against racism with the LGBTQ2+ community.
Jamie Lee Hamilton
A fierce advocate for transgender people, indigenous people, and sex workers. The first transgender person to run for political office in Canada.
The first LGBTQ2+ lawyer to be recognized with a Queen’s Counsel designation. She has represented the LGBTQ2+ community in several landmark cases in BC.
One of the first public transgender activists in Canada. He created many of the first transgender organizations and publications.
Her landmark case against the Canadian military resulted in the end of their discriminatory policy against gay and lesbian military members.
Myra Laramee & Albert McLeod
Together they are responsible for coining and introducing the term ‘two-spirited’ into the LGBTQ and indigenous communities.
A feminist, Black and LGBTQ2+ community activist who is credited with giving racialized and queer women representation in arts and politics.
Often considered to be the first Canadian gay political activist. His articles defending homosexuality were the first to be published from an LGBTQ2+ point of view in Canada.