When Queensland native Caitlin McGibbon-Goode first arrived in Revelstoke, she thought that she’d arrived in a gay paradise.
She interpreted the independent, outdoorsy vibe and rugged, quasi-lumberjack-y dress code (with snap-back hats to cap it off) as a signal.
“I literally thought, like oh my god, there are so many gay girls here,” she told me. “Canadian style is kind of a gay style.”
But, after the initial excitement and a little more investigating, McGibbon-Goode, who is bisexual, found out it wasn’t the case. It was just the Revelstoke look — people who actually wear a Mackinaw while working in the bush, and a mesh-back because it keeps their head cool while they work. With the cost of mountain bike repairs and snow sports gear being what they are, there’s often just no budget left for another set of urban clothes. So, you just sit there having a coffee on Mackenzie Avenue, oblivious to the vibes you’re sending to one antipodean newcomer.
After the initial euphoria, the reality set in. Like many (but not all) small Interior towns, Revelstoke doesn’t have much going in the way of a visible LGBTQ+ scene. Sure, everyone knows someone who’s gay or lesbian, but in terms of a visible community — one that a visitor or newcomer would notice — there’s really not much at all. \
The Safe Spaces Revelstoke Society operated for a couple years, mostly taking an advocacy and education approach. They have organized a float in the Canada Day Parade for the past few years. The society officially folded in November, 2016, after they couldn’t attract enough board members to keep the society running.
Can another approach get the scene going?
What about fun times on Friday night? A place to go for normal fun, but a little different? What about for visitors and newcomers?
“Revy definitely doesn’t have anything like that; there’s not a vocal community at all,” McGibbon-Goode said.
Like many in her position, McGibbon-Goode retreated to dating apps, but that wasn’t a substitute. It led to an assessment of Revelstoke as a bit of “intimidating” place to be. So, she set out in her way to make a change.
The result is Rainbow Party (still a working title), a December 10 coming-out bash for the community, something McGibbon-Goode hopes can be spun into a regular monthly event.
“This will be the first ever gay bar-type night,” she said, saying the organizers are hoping to start with a party that’s “as crazy as possible, as fabulous as possible.”
She’s recruited Sparkle, an scene-pioneering Okanagan-based drag queen, to host the inaugural party at the Last Drop Pub. They’ll be serving themed drinks with racy names, giving away costume prizes, and J.J.-Dubs will be playing dance-y, fun music for the evening. McGibbon-Goode’s also connected with Dustyn Baulkham, past president at Okanagan Pride, who will be sending some members for the event.
That Baulkham and Sparkle are coming to Revelstoke to be part of a show is noteworthy. They were part of a group that put on Peak Pride at Big White this April. (Read a sponsored-content preview to that event via Xtra.) The concept was to get a LGBTQ+ festival going at that ski resort.
For now, the Dec. 10 party will give organizers a sense if the scene can support a regular night, or maybe more in the future.
McGibbon-Goode hopes to start out with a positive event. “Let’s make a night that people would feel comfortable. This is about acceptance and equality,” McGibbon-Goode said. The dress code is ‘fabulous’ — “However you interpret it.”
She adds that everyone’s invited to the first party on Sunday, Dec. 10 at the Last Drop Pub. (I know, a Sunday? McGibbon-Goode said it’s a start.)