An estimated 270 people marched in solidarity through the TRU campus grounds in the fifth annual TRUSU Pride Parade hosted by the TRUSU equity committee last Wednesday, Sept. 28.
By 11 a.m. the crowd had grown to its full size and was buzzing with excitement. Banners stretched between friends and rainbow-coloured picket signs and flags bobbed and waved throughout the group outside the main doors of Old Main.
Before the parade started, President Alan Shaver, TRUFA President Tom Friedman, TRUSU’s LGBTQ Representative Caitlin Orteza and Equity Coordinator Dylan Robinson addressed the group. They recognized the significance of the event, the incredible support that was shown this year, and the work that still needs to be done.
“We have a vested interest in this kind of diversity,” Shaver said.
He added that there is a real strength in unity around the LGBTQ movement. “You’re celebrating a lot of things [today] – freedom, diversity and the university movement to help make the world a better place,” Shaver said.
Recognizing the work that TRUSU has done over the last five years to build a safe and inclusive environment for the LGBTQ community, Friedman said “this is such a positive development in the history of our university.”
Orteza addressed the crowd as well, saying the university should be “a safe place to study, work or socialize, regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity.” She also went on to say there is still a lot of work to be done.
As the parade got under way, starting from the courtyard outside of Old Main, all of the support from the community was shown. About a dozen organizations came and set up booths, with information about the LGBTQ movement, health tips, support outlets, information about getting involved and more.
Lino Caputo, president of TRUSU Pride Club, said a pride parade is a great way to get people out to celebrate the diversity that the TRU campus has and improve the visibility of the LGBTQ community. But, complementing Orteza he said there needs to be more done to support the community on campus.
“One of my big goals in the future, I would really love to have a permanent Pride Center here on campus,” Caputo said.
“There are also issues outside of the queer community itself, so for people who aren’t able to question those things about themselves, how you encourage [them] to explore their identity is really important,” Caputo said.
The LGBTQ community in the greater Kamloops community is also very well established, however it is facing its own issues. Attempts to get support from the City of Kamloops have not been successful, according to Kamloops Pride secretary Eddy O’Toole, who thinks the city isn’t nearly as inclusive as the university.
City councillor Tina Lange, however, said that in her 12 years as a councillor, she has not heard of a group being denied an event. She said that if the request was that the City of Kamloops pay for the event, that may be why it was denied.