Vancouver’s Pride Parade is less than a week away and already the rainbow flag is flying above city hall to mark the beginning of Pride Week.

Ken Coolen, spokesperson for Vancouver Pride Society, said the event is not just a celebration of gay culture and diversity, but a reminder that society still has ground to cover before it can claim to be tolerant.

That’s why organizers chose Russian lawyer, journalist and LGBT rights activist Nicolai Alekseev as one of this year’s parade marshals. Alekseev, who also founded Moscow Pride, is a “shining example” of this year’s theme of liberation, said Coolen.

“Every year the city (of Moscow) bans Pride Parade. Most years (Alekseev) gets arrested. (And) every year they go on to do (the parade).

“Liberate speaks to the idea of not only legal liberation, but liberation from expectations and societal norms,” Coolen added.

For more information, visit vancouverpride.ca.