The white peaks of some of British Columbia’s best mountains are getting a dusting of rainbows this March, and the forecast calls for a chance of Rebellious Unicorns too.
Now in its fifth year, Peak Pride brings a family-friendly, 100-per-cent-inclusive LGBT2Q+ celebration to the top of some of B.C.’s best alpine resorts. Drag bingo and drag brunch, rainbow tubing, karaoke, club dancing, a summit-to-chalet Pride Parade and a smattering of other events aim to unite a diverse crowd for a weekend of prime alpine sports, community building and a lot of fun.
“We’re queer 365 days a year, not just during pride month,” says Dustyn Baulkham, Executive Producer at Rebellious Unicorns, which produces Peak Pride in conjunction with local ski hills. He says they took inspiration from Whistler Pride and a few other events, and aim to spread Pride celebrations beyond summer months.
Baulkham is a “B.C. boy from the Kootenays” whose family made an annual ski trip to SilverStar Mountain Resort even after his dad was posted to Saskatchewan with the RCMP. Now based in Kelowna, he says the idea for Peak Pride came out of conversations he had with friends about the feeling that local resorts weren’t inclusive or safe for queer people.
“It’s partly internalized homophobia — if we don’t see a person or company come out loud and proud as an ally, we assume the exact opposite. Not all ski hills show off that they’re inclusive, but we can work with them on that.”
This year, Peak Pride events are taking place at three B.C. resorts:
- Mount Washington Alpine Resort March 2 to 5, in the Comox Valley, Vancouver Island, B.C.
- SilverStar Mountain Resort March 9 to 12, near Vernon, B.C.
- Sun Peaks March 31 to April 2, near Kamloops, B.C.
A feature performance at every Peak Pride location (plus additional performances in Nanaimo, Vancouver and Kelowna) is Unicorn Reawakened, a theatre piece written by Dustyn Baulkham and performed by Baulkham, Ella Lamoureux and Matthew Presidente. It shares real insights of the many performers whose livelihood vanished during pandemic lockdowns, set in a fictional green room on ‘opening night’ as a group of performers prepare for their first show back.
“It’s fun and it’s campy!” Baulkham says.
The show is 19+, and tickets are free (registration required) thanks to the generous support of Heritage Canada.
Peak Pride offers a range of events, some family friendly and some aimed at adult audiences only. Baulkham believes it’s important to include everyone.
“So much is geared to 19+ that often youth are left out,” he says. “Are all drag shows appropriate for youth? No. But drag itself is for everyone.”
It’s clear that Pride is still needed to create safe spaces for people who identify as LGBT2Q+. Baulkham has been involved with Kelowna Pride for a decade in various capacities, and notes that online and in-person protestors typically only show up when an event is billed as all-ages, and hate towards Pride events has grown much worse since the pandemic began.
“The world evolved over the pandemic. The hatred seems to be much more alive and people are more vocal about it. Having said that, whenever there’s a protest we get far more counter protestors who show up to support our cause.”
For their part, alpine resorts seem eager to fit a Peak Pride weekend into their busy winter ski seasons, and Baulkham looks forward to meeting new ski and snowboarders on the pristine slopes.
“We had some feedback from previous years that people wanted opportunities to meet and chat, which you can’t really do during a drag show. So this year we have a Morning Meet-up on the Saturday where people can hopefully meet a new friend and find someone to ski or board with.”
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