This Friday, August 3, marked the kick-off of Pride weekend in Vancouver. Pride is a time of music, dancing, unity. It’s about sparkles, sequins, and rainbows. It’s the most rainbow time of year.
But this is also a time to remember that Pride was, and still is, above all a protest.
It just so happens that Queer as Funk, Vancouver’s own LGBTQ funk band, is celebrating its five year anniversary, and there couldn’t be a more perfect kickoff for Pride weekend than that!
Even more fitting is the venue: the Commodore Ballroom, smack dab in the middle of the Granville strip. It’s an area that most of us are probably more likely to avoid on a Friday night. But this Pride Weekend Eve event was about queering exactly those spaces, of making inclusive spaces out of the places we might normally fear. It is about strength in numbers and demanding room.
With vocals led by Jocelyn Macdougall and Connie Buna, Queer as Funk had the crowd going with funk songs and funky covers of today’s hits, like Amy Winehouse and Demi Lovato. They played classics like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Walking on Sunshine”, “Proud Mary” and “Shout” for a phenomenal encore. There was not a moment in the show that the crowd wasn’t absolutely enamoured.
Queer as Funk, along with guest star DJ Slade, delivered on every front. There were bubbles and beach balls, there were funk classics and dancing, there was champagne (with an acknowledgment of being safe and inclusive of sobriety and abstinence). But there were also political statements to remind us what Pride is—beyond the glitter and sweaty dance parties.
For many, Pride is not just a fight for the right to party, but a daily battle for acceptance, visibility, and acknowledgment. Queer as Funk put on a show that was not only about fun and dancing in a safe and accepting space, but also about acknowledging the privilege of having events like this on unceded Coast Salish territory, in the middle of the Granville Strip. Pride is about celebration but it’s also about remembering folks like Marsha P. Johnson who made this possible. And Queer as Funk captured this perfectly for a phenomenal Pride Weekend kickoff.