In the 1990s, I longed for a gay-friendly hometown. Has Nanaimo really changed?
My first gay Pride parade was an unforgettable experience, but it certainly didn’t take place in my hometown.
“Rather than receive stares of ridicule and disgust I received looks of admiration, love and respect,” I wrote at the time. “Pride flags adorned every balcony and store window, thousands of people were cheering for me simply because I am who I am.”
“I have yet to receive such acclaim in Nanaimo,” I added.
That was 1999.
Back then I longed to see little rainbow stickers in Nanaimo’s business windows, gay and lesbian couples walking down the street holding hands without fear of being bashed and, someday, a Pride parade.
That someday finally came on June 12, 2016.
Nanaimo’s first Pride parade looked and felt much like every other Pride parade I’ve attended.
Almost everyone was decked out in rainbow colours, and Pride flags fluttered between the glut of pedestrians crisscrossing the parade route to greet friends.