A thousand people poured into the Vancouver Aquarium on August 1 for its second annual Pride After Hours. They danced to music mixed by deejays, marvelled at butterflies and birds in the Amazon Rainforest and roared with delight at performances by local drag queens Raye Sunshine, Kendall Gender and Sienna Blaze.
“The queer community is well represented on the Vancouver Aquarium’s staff and volunteer team,” said Derek Jang, the Aquarium’s Manager of Interpretive Delivery. “It’s important to us that the event was not just about putting up some rainbow signs and calling it a day. We really sought to amplify the voices of our LGBTQ+ team members and create an event that felt authentic and inclusive.”
Jang said the team members agreed that Pride After Hours was a great opportunity to mix their love of science with their love of drag shows. “It was amazing to share our platform with some of our favourite performers from the Vancouver club scene.”
The event began slowly and fairly quietly, but as the warm summer night wore on, more and more guests, ranging from conservatively to wildly attired, filled the Aquarium’s intriguing galleries, wet labs and decks. The adults-only theme of the evening’s activities meant relaxed grown-ups wandered through the building, drinks in hand, without having to worry about youngsters in their midst.
Risqué on-stage banter, thumping dance music and animal sex talks made for a night that echoed Pride’s over-arching themes of mutual acceptance and spirited revelry.
“As a gay man, I know firsthand how important Pride’s message of inclusion is to strengthening community ties and fighting stigma,” said Jang. “It was fantastic to see so many queer people and allies coming together to learn and celebrate at the Aquarium.”
The Vancouver Aquarium hosts After Hours every few months throughout the year. The next such event will be Halloween After Hours on Oct. 31st, where guests are invited to wear costumes that outdo the daily garb of Aquarium residents – good luck with that! – and enjoy a sensationally spooky time.
For more information on After Hours, watch this space.