It wasn’t exactly the celebration they were planning, but organizers and participants in the first annual Langley Pride Fest still rated it a success.
Because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, plans to hold the event in McLeod Athletic Park had to be called off.
Instead, a virtual version was held, in place of what was intended to be a family-friendly gathering to promote inclusion and equality for the LGBTQ2S+ community, one that offered entertainment and opportunities for community groups to take part.
Langley Pride invited people to display Pride flags and rainbow signs in their homes, offices, and vehicles on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 7 and 8.
Langley City councillor Nathan Pachal called the virtual version of the festival “really positive.”
The fact the event was being held was a measure of how far the community has come, in Pachal’s opinion.
For a Pride Fest video, Pachal recounted how he and his husband were the target of a homophobic slur when they went for a walk one day in Langley City, shortly after they moved to the community, with the insult hurled at them just outside their residence.
Pachal later told the Langley Advance Times that the incident happened “a while back” and Langley appears to have become somewhat more accepting.
“I really think our community has changed for the better,” Pachal commented.
“We’re starting to see people as people.”
Pachal’s comments were echoed by Art Pearson, the public outreach coordinator for the Hominum Fraser Valley support group – which holds monthly meetings in the Langley area for gay, bi-sexual, and questioning men.
“We’ve always felt welcome [in Langley],” Pearson said.
City mayor Val van den Broek said she was “disappointed” that there would be no pride parade in Langley this year, but was looking optimistically to the post-coronavirus future.
“Next year, we’re going to do it bigger and better,” van den Broek predicted.
Langley Township Coun. Petrina Arnason talked about the benefits of diversity in her remarks for the video.
“Part of our success is embodied in all of our acts that embrace differences,” Arnason said.
Happy Pride, Langley! The Pride Flag was raised in Langley City and we gathered community members to share support and make a statement via video https://t.co/3gcNhtqhb3 Next year, we hope to celebrate in person. 🌈🎉#LangleyPride2020 pic.twitter.com/EpLL5tX5rC
— LangleyPrideFest (@LangleyPride) August 8, 2020
Video hosts and Pride Fest directors Stacey Wakelin and Patrick Masse broadcast from Fort Langley in front of the rainbow crosswalk on Glover.
Wakelin said there will “absolutely” be a second Pride Fest next year,just based on the number of people who have told her they were disappointed there was no outdoor event this year.
READ ALSO: Langley’s rainbow crosswalk causes a storm
Several days before the fest got underway, the rainbow flag was raised at Langley City hall, for the fourth year in a row.
Langley Pride is made up of local residents and community organizations such as the Langley Youth Hub/Encompass Society, Inclusion Langley, One TWU, the Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society, educators, Shepherd of the Valley Church, local residents, among others.