Just before the parade leaves the United Church to make its loud and proud way down Whitehorse’s Main Street, Doris Bill, Chief of the Kwanlun Dun First Nation, tells a story.
She recalls a man she knew who was gay. Not only was he ostracized from his local Yukon community but ended up leaving the territory for good to live in Vancouver.
“The Yukon is a very different place now than it was then. I’m so proud of who we have become, a place where our two-spirited and transgendered people can feel welcome.”
A raucous cheer greets her words, the dance music blares from the lead truck, and Whitehorse Pride 2018 is officially underway.
Chief Bill’s observation- that the Yukon has evolved from silencing to celebrating its LGBTQ community- is obvious all along the parade route. Customers come out of restaurants and bars to wave. Shop owners cheer. People smile from their seats on curbs and tailgates. Side street traffic stops willingly, mostly without the enforcement of officials or barriers, to watch the parade dance past. The generous sun smiles down, promising even more than 24 hours of gaylight.