I am really grateful that here in BC I haven't really experienced that, but that being said it's always great to have an organization that is full of people who have shared experiences and backgrounds. For women we have organizations like the 99s, and for LGBTQ+ pilots we have nationally the Canadian Aviation Pride and locally Cascade Flying Club.
The National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA) is largely an American based commercial pilot organization which has been a safe place for pilots to be themselves without fear of losing their job and now represents over 4000 LGBTQ+ people in the United States and Canada. They offer scholarship and advocacy programs.
Canadian Aviation Pride is a fantastic Canadian organization which has an emphasis on inclusive aviation passion with a name that appeals to more than just gay men and is open to not just pilots but anyone with an interest in aviation that is open minded and wants to be part of a vibrant community. I was lucky enough to participate in a Christmas event they put on and everyone was friendly and as a pretty awkward dude I was pulled in and made a friend real fast which was fantastic.
Cascade Flyers are Pacific Northwest focused and hold events in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. Their big annual event is the Orcas Island Fly-in https://www.facebook.com/events/107800073425127/, which I haven't participated in yet, but Orcas Island is honestly one of my favourite places to land in the San Juans and you should consider it anyway (aside: number one is AJ Eisenberg for cheap gas and a fun landing). Cascade Flyers are mostly just a Facebook group and an out-of-date website, but a great group of people who know this area. There are many commercial pilots who are members but they also have a strong GA population (hence the fly-in, something Canadian Aviation Pride doesn't do around here).
The only problem I find with both organizations (and I am sure this is partly due to demographics, but does represent a problem within gay organizations in general) are the lack of representation within the LBTQ+ part of LGBTQ+. As with many things aviation they are pretty dude heavy, but the Canadian Aviation Pride meeting I was at was at least racially diverse. It should however be mentioned that the Canadian Aviation Pride group has over 25% female membership which is well above aviation industry norms.
Supporting the growth of General Aviation means supporting diversity. I think BC proves that, the airports that I mentioned at the beginning of this article are dying, the average age in those hangars is probably somewhere between dinosaur and rocks. While GA isn't exactly a boom industry anywhere, I think our presence here in BC and the wider age demographics show that when you are inclusive you gain a younger base and that keeps GA alive.
If these are organizations that interest you you can find the Canadian Aviation Pride at Vancouver Pride in August, and online at aviationpride.ca. You can find Cascade Flyers in Orcas Island July 19th and on their Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/cascadeflyers/. These organizations are cooperative and there is no reason you can't join or support both.
Americans can also consider supporting the National Gay Pilot Association (NGPA) who was initially put in this article as the same organization as Aviation Pride. We have updated this post to correct it.
Article By: Travis McCrea (BCGA Director)