WENATCHEE – Hundreds of people ventured outside in the late-spring heat to gather for the third-annual Wenatchee Pride festival at Lincoln Park on Saturday afternoon.
According to its organizers, the event’s mission is to empower and connect members of the region’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, and pansexual (LGBTQ+) community in order to create and maintain a safe, inclusive, and equitable environment for all.
“Pride Day is really something that allows our LGBT community to say that we’re here for love and human equality,” said Wenatchee Pride Board of Directors member Eddie Chaidez. “Coming together with the community and having it be a free family event, this is why we do it, because we want to connect with the community, show love and support and give that back also. But it’s basically to show that love trumps all and for human equality.”
This year marked the first time the event has been held at Lincoln Park and the expanded space it offered over the festival’s previous venues allowed for the inclusion of additional stage attractions and vendors.
Scores of local businesses and non-profits were featured at the event, as well as a variety of individual activists and artisans as well.
The occasion also included its first-ever Rainbow Graduation ceremony, which celebrated the institutional course completions of five area students who identify as LGBTQ+, including Wenatchee Valley College student president Luz Estrada.
“Today is so important because in Wenatchee, being a rural community, for queer people, especially queer youth or anybody is the queer spectrum or ally to know that there’s a space for them,” explained Estrada. “So, this is the space. This is the celebration. We’re so far away from all of the bigger celebrations to have a celebration here is so important.”
Along with its local inclusions, the event also welcomed an appearance from Washington’s 8th District Representative Kim Schrier, who briefly addressed the festival’s attendees before taking the time to meet and greet a few of them.
“What a moment it is to all be out here in a park celebrating together how far we’ve come over the past 50 years,” said Schrier to the audience in reference to the remembrance of the Stonewall riots in June of 1969 in New York City.
“To think that now we have marriage equality and that partners can adopt each other’s kids and that we don’t have the kind of discrimination we saw years ago,” continued Schrier in her address.
“We haven’t come far enough which is why I was so proud to sponsor the Equality Act, because we need full equality and I was so pleased that in a bipartisan fashion, we passed that easily through the House of Representatives.”