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Surrey to raise rainbow flag at City Hall for Pride Month in historic 1st

A rainbow flag is waved during the annual Pride Parade in Vancouver, B.C., on Aug. 4, 2019. (Shutterstock) A rainbow flag is waved during the annual Pride Parade in Vancouver, B.C., on Aug. 4, 2019. (Shutterstock)

Cities across Metro Vancouver are raising rainbow flags in solidarity with LGBTQ2S+ communities as June 1 marks the official start of Pride Month—with one city joining in on the annual tradition for the first time ever.

This June marks the first time the Pride flag will be raised outside City Hall in Surrey, though the city has had a pride organization for 24 years.

The president of Surrey Pride Society joined CTV Morning Live on Thursday to talk about the significance of the moment.

“As the second largest city in the province it shows diversity, inclusion and acceptance,” Mooney said, adding the symbolic gesture carries economic benefits as well.

“It will give the perspective that the City of Surrey is open to rainbow community businesses being in operation,” he explained.

Mooney has been an active member of Surrey’s “rainbow” community since Valentine’s Day 1998, when he helped organize the city’s first gay dance.

Pride celebrations began as a protest for equal rights—and this dance was no different.

The event was organized as a fundraiser to help fight attempts by the Surrey School Board to ban books that depicted same-sex parented families, which was ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The dance planted the seeds for Surrey Pride Society.

“You know, 24 years later you’d think there would be a community centre, a gay bar or whatever, but we’re hoping. We’re working with partners to see if we can achieve that in the next two or three years,” said Mooney.

While he can’t explain exactly why it’s taken so long to have a rainbow flag raised for Pride month in Surrey, Mooney suspects the city’s previous leaders played a large role.

“For the last 15 years or so, we’ve had a very conservative social government and I don’t think that certain people wanted to embrace our community on that level because of the negative feedback they may have received,” said Mooney.

In 2019, when Surrey RCMP raised the rainbow flag in honour of Pride month for the first time, the move was met an angry demonstration outside the detachment’s headquarters.

Four years later, the theme of Surrey’s Pride celebration is “Stronger Together.”

“The reason that theme was chosen was because of all of the hate that’s been occurring in the states and all of the protests that have been occurring across the province,” Mooney explained.

“Marginalized communities, regardless of who they are, become targets. Stronger together means that if every marginalized community comes together, we have more strength, we have more power and we have more diversity.

The month long celebration will culminate with a festival in front of City Hall on June 24.

When asked about the date of the flag raising ceremony, the city said plans are still in the works.

“The City of Surrey is working with Surrey Pride Society on raising the Pride flag as an act of celebration and acceptance this month. More information on this event is forthcoming,” a spokesperson wrote in an email.

“Surrey is a city for everyone. Pride Month is an opportunity to demonstrate that we are inclusive and accepting,” reads the statement. 

More information on the festivities can be found online at surreypride.ca.

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