By Shar Lichty

This year marked the 21st year of the Pride Parade in Spokane on June 9. As we have done since its formation, PJALS participated with a delegation in the parade and provided peacekeepers to ensure a safe and fun filled day for all. Mother nature was not so kind this year with her cold, rainy presence but that didn’t dampen the spirit or turnout (there were rainbows galore!) for what “my favorite day in Spokane.”

I recently caught this video clip (below) being posted on facebook from the first Pride Parade and am so pleased to see how much it has grown.

I feel this is in part to the LGBTQ community feeling more secure to come out (pun intended) and freely express themselves in the Spokane community. Our increased visibility helps create what I see as a circular affect, with the community realizing we are just “the people in your neighborhood” and not the villains some like to portray us as, thus creating a more inclusive atmosphere in Spokane. This past year, I have also witnessed more collaboration among the LGBTQA organizations and members with our work on GSA’s and marriage equality. This warms my organizer heart–we are so much stronger and effective when we work together toward our common goals. This year’s theme was Stand Up! Speak Out! Spark Change! which I feel sums up our work over the past year and reminds us of the need to continue moving forward together for equality for all.

The peacekeepers had a busier day than usual with the one guy and his giant sign growing to six anti-gay zealots and their attempts to instill the fear of their god on the crowds. For the most part, individuals who participate in Pride are familiar with these folks and go on their way to celebrate who they are regardless of others’ judgment of them. Thank you to all of this year’s peacekeepers for your time and dedication to once again provide a safe environment for all, and thank you to all of the volunteers who braved the cold, wet day with me to staff PJALS’ outreach table at the Rainbow Festival. And, thank you to OutSpokane for once again organizing this fantastic event and giving us a day of Pride in Spokane!