Sunday, March 16, 2008


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Since 1970, the gay community of Vancouver has held a yearly Coronation Ball, where an Emperor and Empress are voted on the week before. This big ole gay ball started when there was little or no organized groups in the City.

During its heyday it was the social event of the year, often packing in crowds of between 1,200 and 2,000 guests. These lavish Coronation balls were held at the historic Commodore Ballroom. Now-a-days, the organizers cannot afford the Commodore as attendance has dwindled down to around 200 attendees, many of whom are out-of-town guests.

In 1979, Vancouver had attempted to have the Mayor of the day, Jack Volrich, proclaim Gay Unity week. Mr Volrich declined and the gay community was stung by what it perceived as a homophobic slight.

Mr. Mike Harcourt, was campaigning in November 1980 to be Vancouver's next Mayor. He promised if elected that he would proclaim gay unity week.

At the March, 1981 stepping-down Coronation of Empress 9, Dede, the largest social event ever held in the history of gay Vancouver, attracting 2000 participants, one of the special guests was the newly-elected Mayor Mike Harcourt, who walked the Commodore Ballroom floor to a thunderous and prolonged standing ovation. Mayor Mike had delivered on the promise to proclaim gay unity week. Then Mayor Mike Harcourt, walked the Commodore floor to kiss the hand of the beautiful and glamorous Empress Dede.

This was the first time that a sitting Mayor had attended Coronation and after that many other politicians, most notably Svend Robinson and MP, Dr. Hedy Fry, marked this yearly celebration on their social calenders as a must do. Ms Fry, in fact, last night informed me that she has attended every ball since being elected in 1993. Hedy is a crowd favorite and she receives similar applause as Mayor Harcourt did in 1981.

This year the ball attracted under 200 guests with many in-town folks no longer attending. The still beautiful Empress Dede was in attendance and greeting guests. Other notables attending were Pride President, John Boychuk and his partner Paul, The Centre's Co-Chair, Craig Maynard, Little Sisters manager, Janine Fuller and her partner, past Emperor, Buster Cherry, Empress of Canada, Mr. ted northe, the strikingly beautiful, Milan, Ms Gay Vancouver, Sabrina Ho, Knights of Malta, First Nations Elder, Sarah Blanket and Entertainer Extraordinaire, Joan-E .

Enter Mayor Sam Sullivan.

Mayor Sullivan was invited to the Ball by Michael Harding, the just-deposed Executive Director of the gay and lesbian Centre, which in 1979 had received considerable start-up funds from the stepping-down Empress and Emperor, Daisy Duck and Donny Towne. These funds allowed the Centre to expand and move into its current location at 1170 Bute Street.

Mr. Harding had been granted permission to introduce Mayor Sullivan. He articulated into the microphone that since 1981, when Mayor Mike Harcourt had attended, no other sitting Mayor had been present at Coronation until now. Mr. Harding received this information from yours truly. Mr. Harding then proceeded to introduce Mayor Sullivan to luke-warm applause and I watched as two glamorous Divas, Empress Dede and Dr Hedy Fry, shifted uncomfortably in their seats.

The introduction by Mr. Harding comparing Mayor Sullivan, to former Mayor, Mike Harcourt was an opportunistic attempt to gain favor with the crowd. Clever, but it didn't work.

As Mayor Sullivan took the microphone and bestowed lavish praise on a couple of Empresses, he completely overlooked the history-making celebrant Empress Dede who is still wildly popular in this City and throughout the United States. Empress Dede starred for over a decade in the Evening at La Cage show in Atlantic City, headlining at the famed Bally's Casino.

As the American-Empress, the lovely Suzanne, who was MC'ing the third set, which Mayor Sullivan pitched himself and after Mr. Sullivan finished his speech, she instructed the Coronation crowd to get out and vote for Mr. Sullivan. The crowd was not happy about an American telling us how to vote and the remark made by the Empress, the Lovely Suzanne, was met with stone-cold silence.

Mr. Sullivan, attempting to hitch his pony to the wildly popular Mr. Harcourt failed. In fact, as is the usual case with Mayor Sullivan, instead of using his Mayoral position to unite the City, his opportunistic attendance at the Ball, alienated attendees and created division.

It should be noted that since winning political office in 1993, Ms Fry has attended every single Coronation, whereas Mr. Sullivan not once since winning political office at the same time as Dr. Fry, has ever attended Coronation. Until now that is. And, one must wonder whether, Dr Hedy Fry who usually says a few words at Coronation was dumped in favour of Mayor Sullivan?

And, I'm certain Mayor Sullivan that you had nothing to do with this right? Ya right!

Jamie Lee Hamilton