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WATCH: The untold story of Canada’s first Pride parade, through the eyes of a legendary queen

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Drag Race fan, surely you’re familiar with “Queen Of The North” Brooke Lynn Hytes. But have you met… The Empress?Yes, well before the Canada’s Drag Race host was even born, another queen was paving a bold new path forward for the queer community—literally—leading Canada’s first official Pride parade ever back in 1981.Her name?

Oliv Howe, the Empress Of Vancouver. Bow down to Canadian royalty, eh?Oliv is the at the center of a gorgeous new documentary called Empress Of Vancouver from filmmaker Dave Rodden-Shortt, which tells the story of our queer sisters to the north and their LGBTQ+ civil rights movement through the eyes of a local legend.Born on a farm in New Brunswick Canada to a family of devout Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oliv fled home as a teenager, arriving to New York City where she performed in drag for the first time at just 14 before relocating to Montreal, where the nightlife scene was booming in the ’60s.Eventually, she found herself in Vancouver, which would become her home.

Over the years, she became a staple of the community and one of Canada’s most famous queens, chosen to lead the country’s first-ever Pride parade and crowned its official drag empress.Forty years after her coronation, the documentary catches up with Oliv, reflecting on a life from the fringes of society to the frontlines of activism.

Frank and funny as ever, the queen looks back at the high highs and low lows, surviving the AIDS crisis and addiction, but also sharing the story of her transition that saved her life.“As a female of this ‘type,’ I don’t give a f*ck if you like me, or approve of me, or think I’m real,” Oliv says. “When people used to say, ‘Well, you’re very real,’ and I would go, ‘Well, I’m a bit surreal.’ I prefer that.”Told.

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