With pride: The past, present and future of the TRU pride march

Devan C. Tasa, News Editor Ω

Katelyn Echlin-Scorer (centre in blue shirt), one of the organizers of the first pride parade last year, leads that march across campus. - PHOTO BY SAMANTHA GARVEY

Katelyn Echlin-Scorer (centre in blue shirt), one of the organizers of the first pride parade last year, leads that march across campus. – PHOTO BY SAMANTHA GARVEY

It was not how one would expect such a large parade to be organized on TRU campus.

It started around March of last year when Katie Hutfluss and Katelyn Echlin-Scorer were working on an event connected with the TRU Pride Club, said Matthew Griffiths, the club’s leader.

“They were planning on doing a week of breaking stereotypes, I think,” he said, “but when they were trying to plan that out, it just morphed into, ‘Let’s do a parade on campus, or a march of sorts.’”

Hutfluss said she remembered what happened when the word of this march spread.

“My friend Katelyn and I, we started a Facebook group, just going to go out on the street and march for fun with a group of friends and overnight our Facebook group grew to about 400,” she said. “We said, ‘Oh, oh,’ and hit the ground running.”

Echlin-Scorer was responsible for talking to the media and promoting the event, while Hutfluss took care of the parade’s logistics.

Within two weeks, on April 5, 2012, Hutfluss and Echlin-Scorer had organized the first pride parade ever in Kamloops, which had nearly 500 people marching and would be the basis of similar parades in the future.

“Last year was the first year that we even thought of, or even acted upon, making a parade happen,” Griffiths said. “That was entirely Katie and [Katelyn’s] work.”

Other cities in Interior and Northern B.C. have had pride parades before this. For instance, Prince George has had a pride parade since 1997. Hutfluss said certain conditions had to be met before Kamloops was able to have its first pride parade.

“I just think it took time. It had to be with the right group of people in the right mindset and it had to be done in a certain way, because you can’t throw something when people aren’t ready,” she said. “Last year was a time where a couple of us said, ‘Yup, it’s time for Kamloops to have a pride parade.’”

The reaction to last year’s parade was positive.

“People were just really hyped up,” Griffiths said. “Like, ‘Oh, it’s happening, okay, we’d better go,’ and during and after we were really surprised and really happy that so many people showed up.”

Don Reid, the treasurer of the Kamloops Gay and Lesbian Association (GALA) said the parade was a success and that the organizers did a good job.

Hutfluss also remembered a positive atmosphere.

“Everybody wanted to be there if you were an ally or part of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer and questioning) community,” she said. “It was the first time where it was okay to be gay and everybody was really proud of it.”

She added that many people came out to their families that day, while other people were there to support their LGBTQ friends or family.

Hutfluss said there were few negative comments toward the parade, most of which showed up in the comments section of the local newspapers’ websites.

“That’s where we saw the community support the most,” she said, “because every time there was one bad comment, at least two to three people would stand and say good things and help support our case.”

The speed at which last year’s parade was organized also had some disadvantages.

Griffiths said because of the time frame, TRU Pride was unable to organize some events after the parade.

“Last year we didn’t have a dance or anything after the parade and a lot of people were like, ‘Okay, what’s next?’ after it was done,” he said.

Reid said that GALA was caught a little off-guard by the sudden parade. Because it is a large organization, it was a little harder to give lots of support quickly.

But despite those problems, the parade started something.

“It did set up a foundation and a lot of opportunity for years to come,” Hutfluss said. “That was something we were really proud of.”

Around the same time as the parade, something else happened to set the stage for this year’s parade.

“A week or two before, I had just got elected into TRUSU,” said Hutfluss, who serves as a director on its council, “so this was a good opportunity for me to fight for the LGBT collective for the year and get all of the logistics done for that so the pride parade could take place every day as part of TRUSU and having that backing and student union support.”

That LGBTQ collective was established by a vote at Jan. 24’s TRUSU annual general meeting. One of its responsibilities is to organize a pride parade each year on campus. Hutfluss is responsible for organizing this year’s parade, which will be held on April 5 starting at 11 a.m.

“This year, I’m using much of the same foundation Katelyn and I built up last year; however, we’re trying to get more community involvement and we really do hope the event will be larger this year,” she said.

The extra organization time gained from knowing there will be a parade this year has been advantageous for all involved.

“This year, [GALA] got on top of it in early December and then again in January,” Reid said, “and said, ‘Look, we want to work with you, we want to support you, we want to be involved in what’s going on.’”

TRU Pride will be holding a dance at Heroes that night, with tickets costing $3 if pre-purchased or $5 at the door. It will also be hosting workshops that week run by member Cory Keith on subjects like sexual communication and discussing a method of mapping out relationships that includes those with different orientations.

“We’ve had more time to organize it, so we’re going to have, for example, more tables with sponsors set up for the end of the march and hopefully more staff and students come out to show support,” Griffiths said.

After the march, there will be a resource fair that will deal with giving support to the LGBTQ community. On March 15, Hutfluss said there would be 14 organizations coming to the resource fair, as well as the B.C. Nurses’ Union.

Both Hutfluss and Griffiths see the pride march expand even further next year.

However, in the near future, that might not involve a march in Kamloops’ downtown streets.

“There has been talk about it,” Hutfluss said. “I think there will be in later years. You can’t just jump straight into it.”

Reid said this year, GALA is working on a major event on July 13 at a city park, with a dance in the evening. That event won’t include a march because TRUSU and TRU Pride are already having one.

“We’ll support them as best as we can and rather than provide any sort of controversy or conflict,” he said, “it makes more sense just to have the one pride march event rather than two.”

Reid added that GALA is trying to work together more closely with TRU Pride and the university community. If for some reason, the university community ceases doing the march, then it would consider holding one of its own.

Hutfluss did say that in the long-term, a move downtown could be possible.

“Hopefully by the fifth year, we might see it move downtown. I think that would be when we have enough foundation of business and people coming out and supporting,” she said. “But right now, I do want to keep it on campus just because there are so many resources and people who can help.”