Here are just some of the LGBTQ2S+ stories that made headlines in Vancouver in 2018.
When South Korean organizers failed to raise enough money to build a Pride House at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, the Canadian Olympic Committee stepped into help.
The first Pride House was created in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics as a safe place for LGBTQ2S+ athletes, fans and their allies from across the globe to gather. Eight years later, Pride House in PyeongChang was well used by Team Canada’s Eric Radford and fiancé Spanish ice dancer Luis Fenero, as well as Olympic fan favourite U.S. skater Adam Rippon and Dutch skater Ireen Wust.
Despite a rally held in Vancouver (April 23) outside B.C. Teachers’ Federation headquarters, protesters in opposition to the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities 123 curriculum being taught in B.C. schools, lost their bid to have the program removed. The SOGI program, which was developed by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the Ministry of Education, and introduced by the provincial government in 2015, aims to educate students and teachers on issues regarding gender and sexuality in school children. At the time of the rally, BCTF President Glen Hansman stressed the importance of the SOGI program and made it clear the curriculum is in B.C. schools to stay.
In May the City of Vancouver proclaimed 2018 "Year of the Queer," stirring up differing opinions on whether the term queer is celebratory or problematic. But despite the differences of opinion, the official declaration of “Year of the Queer” took place May 23.
It began with a panel discussion at city hall, followed by a celebration on Helena Gutteridge Plaza. Pride, trans and Two-Spirited flags were then raised at city hall, where they remained until Aug. 19.
The B.C. Gay and Lesbian Archives, a collection established and maintained since 1976 by Ron Dutton, an active, long-time member of Vancouver’s LGBTQ2S+ community, was donated to the City of Vancouver Archives in May and is now available to the public.
For more than 40 years, Dutton acquired and described textual records, photographs, periodicals, ephemera and audio-visual material of significant to the LGBTQ2S+ community in Vancouver and throughout the province. Over the years, he provided access to the materials from his West End apartment. Concerned about the future of the BCGLA, Dutton donated the entire collection to the city archives.
Students attending Trinity Western University no longer need pledge to heterosexual abstinence. The last time TWU changed its community covenant, it was to allow dancing. The covenant is not changing but the Christian university’s board of governors recently decided that it will no longer require students to sign the covenant’s pledge not to partake in sexual intimacy before marriage — and only then between a man and a woman.
Travis Jones, facilitator of a program dedicated to LGBTQ2S+ seniors, says some pioneers of the gay rights movement who have moved into care facilities are being forced back into the closet. Jones says the baby boomer demographic entering retirement is growing exponentially in Canada and that applies to the LGBTQ2S+ community as well.
To that end, Jones began facilitating a drop-in gathering on Friday evenings at the Roundhouse Community Centre called Rainbow Roundtable, a weekly discussion group that includes speakers and activities. Jones hopes to connect members of the LGBTQ2S+S community 55 and older from across the Lower Mainland to discuss the issues facing them as they age. Returning to the closet after moving into a care facility is a key point of concern.
The long-running diner known for its trademark cheeky service closed its doors for good Oct. 30 in the face of redevelopment. The Elbow Room began its life in 1983 on Jervis, and moved to its Davie Street spot in 1996.
The Davie at Seymour site is one of several the City of Vancouver intends to redevelop for housing. The Elbow Room, known for its heaping plates of diner-style eats, served with a generous helping of sass, was opened by Bryan Searle and husband Patrice Savoie more than three decades ago, creating a safe space for the community. Searle passed away in December 2017 at age 87.
Popular LGBTQ2S+ hot spots to close
Owner Jenn Mickey announced in December that XY and 1181 Lounge will close at the end of 2018, citing the city’s high rents and “increasing challenges in obtaining hospitality insurance” as the main drivers of her decision. XY, located at 1216 Bute St., has since been listed for sale.