Thousands turn out to support Victoria’s 30th consecutive Pride Festival

Thousands turn out to support Victoria’s 30th consecutive Pride Festival

Thousands turn out to support Victoria’s 30th consecutive Pride Festival

Tens of thousands of people lined the streets of Victoria on Sunday to watch the Victoria Pride Society’s 30th consecutive Pride parade and festival.

The first Pride Parade was held in the capital in 1994.

Thirty years later, it is one of Victoria’s largest events, with more than 40,000 people gathering to celebrate diversity, love and equality.

“It’s amazing to see people here,” said Ace Mann, president of Victoria Pride Society. “Pride is always a protest, but today is also a time to come together to celebrate and connect.”

Many in the crowd told CHEK News they were there to support neighbors, friends and family.

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“I stand here today as a proud ally supporting my firstborn, whom we love so much,” said Shannon Dunlop.

Larissa Beeston told CHEK News she was celebrating because “I love love, everyone loving each other and just celebrating.”

Others attended to ensure their voices as members of the LGBTQ+ community were heard.

Skye Sullivan, who identifies as a young queer person, said Pride is an important event to show how far acceptance of her community has come.

“It’s very important to me, especially as a young person, to feel accepted in a place and to know that there is a community of people,” Sullivan explained.

Mann said that while it’s encouraging to see so many people coming out and supporting Pride, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“I really want to see these people come out when it’s not just rainbows and glitter during Pride week,” they said. “We’re fighting for so many things all year long and I really want to see people come out for that too.”

This year’s parade featured 127 floats, which was interrupted halfway through.

Victoria Police say a group of about 40 protesters blocked the parade route. The parade was diverted and the protesters dispersed without incident.

A group of pro-Palestine protesters say it was their group that disrupted the parade, saying there were groups that had floats in the parade that supported Israel, and called on the Victoria Pride Society to end its association with those groups.

READ MORE: Pro-Palestine protesters disrupt Victoria Pride parade and reroute it

“These aren’t crazy demands and they’re things we’re already trying to do because they make a lot of sense. We’re trying to make sure that Pride is serving the people who are most deserving of equity and that’s what we’re going to continue to do. It’s a big ship to steer and sometimes it takes a while, there are things we can’t do quickly,” Mann said.

The Pride festival continued throughout Sunday afternoon at McDonald’s Park, with a host of performers, vendors and drag shows.

Thousands of people flocked to the festival grounds and Mann said it was exciting to see.

“I’m excited to be able to make it to 30 (consecutive pride parades and festivals) and I can’t wait to see 60,” they said.

Watch the Victoria Pride Parade live on CHEK and CHEK+

With files from Kori Sidaway and Laura Brougham of CHEK

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