An outpouring of support from the wider community has begun towards the Pride Collective at UBC, sparked by yesterday’s discovery that Pride’s rainbow flag — flown outside the old SUB in celebration of OUTweek — had been burned down.
The city of Vancouver is showing solidarity in the form of flying a rainbow flag outside City Hall in response to the event, according to a tweet from the mayor’s office earlier today.
“It’s really necessary for us to show that although there is still a great deal of homophobia, it’s going to be countered with those of us who want to make a stand to say it’s not okay,” said Tim Stevenson, a Vancouver city councillor who was president of Gay UBC in 1980, the precursor to Pride UBC.
Stevenson also noted that the lights on City Hall will be rainbow, instead of their usual white, in support of the Pride Collective. Similarly, the Vancouver School Board has been flying their rainbow flag today as well.
For its part, the Pride Collective is glad the community is coming together to support them at this time.
“I think we did need a little time to process. Now that it’s happened, we’re all feeling a little better today,” said Allison Marlyn, a member of Pride.
“We’re still in the stages of figuring out what our next steps are going to be so we don’t have a lot of solid plans,” said Yulanda Lui, one of the coordinators of Pride. “It’s been really great. We’re all spending time with one another and really being there for one another, and that’s been really good.”
A UBC spokesperson confirmed earlier today that the university RCMP is investigating the crime.
The independence of the event was noted by Associate VP Equity and Inclusion Sara-Jane Finlay.
“The fact that this is such an unusual occurrence for our community, that we haven’t had something like this in an awful long time, would lead me to hope this is just an isolated incident and not something that will continue to impact on our community – although clearly it will resonate for quite some time,” said Finlay.
Finlay also emphasized the need to take into account the wider effects of events such as these. “This has an impact and ripples out much more broadly than just the events of this week. So I think we need to be taking into consideration how we ensure that our entire campus feels safe.”
Finlay reiterated the university’s support for the Pride Collective and the LGBTQ+ community as well as anyone else affected by the events, as originally expressed in a statement from her office yesterday.
“We want people to be exploring gender and sexual identity and increasing their understanding around those issues. We will be very supportive of having those events continue and we’ll offer what kind of supports we can,” she told The Ubyssey today.
For the AMS’s part, they have been in meetings with the Pride Collective and have offered any support the group needs, particularly in the form of media relations and communications support. However, AMS President Aaron Bailey said that it’s up to the Pride Collective how they choose to be supported.
One of their agreements with the Pride Collective is that all media inquiries will be directed to Pride.
“We believe it’s important for their voice to be the first and most prominent on the issue,” said Bailey.
He also noted that the AMS will support any events Pride plans to allow people to show solidarity, such as a future flag-raising or advocacy work.
Pride has since released a second statement on their Facebook page in response to both the support and the criticisms of cancelling the Fuck the Cis-tem March.
“[Although] many folks outside of the collective would like to be in solidarity with us, we need our communities to listen to us and our needs at this time, rather than try to criticize and shame our decision to cancel the march,” read the statement.
“Being supportive, rather than combative, to a small group of university students is the best thing that our communities can do right now, regardless of if a march exists. We need as much external support as we can, and critiquing the cancellation of an event that could make many participants feel unsafe is not the best way to show that support.”
This article has been updated to include the Pride Collective’s second statement.