June is Pride Month. And for the next three weeks, we’ll be highlighting some stories from Muddies about Pride and their hopes for the L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ community.
Last weekend, Muddies marched in the Olympia Pride Parade. You might have also seen us at booths supporting Olympia, Capitol Hill, Burien and Greenwood Pride events in June.
We’re halfway through Pride Month, but there’s still plenty of Pride Parades in Washington and Oregon through the rest of June and July. You’ll see Muddies at Prides in the following cities, so if you come to Pride, please stop by and say hello!
- Portland Pride Festival: June 16th and 17th
- Central Oregon Pride in Bend: June 23rd
- Tacoma Pride Festival: July 14th
- Bellingham Pride Festival: July 15th
For the first part of our series, we asked three Muddies to talk about their first Prides. We hope that if you’ve never been to Pride, these stories will help you understand what to expect and encourage you to attend a local Pride event. And for members of the community and allies, we hope that these memories inspire fond remembrances of your own first Pride.
My first Pride was in Denver. I was seventeen, I had just come out as queer, and I was involved in a GLBT youth group in Colorado. And I actually marched in the Parade for my first Pride, with the youth group I was involved with. It was just me and a bunch of other under-21 GLBT folks that were probably experiencing our first Prides together. When you’re seventeen, everything feels amazing, and I remember it being very emotional and very powerful to be there.
But it’s a big, mind-opening experience to go to Pride for the first time because there are so many different types of people. I mean, there’s basically every type of person, and everybody is expressing who they are in so many different ways. You don’t even really have to relate to each other, but just relate to the fact that you’re expressing yourself honestly and openly with integrity.
It wasn’t, actually, the first Pride I saw. The first time I was at Pride I was 15. I happened to be in London on a school trip, and my classmates and I decided to get off a bus and walk because a parade was blocking our route. And no one really knew what it was, but I remember it dawning on me that this was Pride, and that oh, this has something to do with me and who I am. But I didn’t really acknowledge it until I was a little bit older.
I think it’s important to know that for many queer people Pride is often an important part of figuring out your identity and finding your community. For me, back in the late nineties, it was still kind of scary to be queer. Sometimes I feel like it’s easier for me to be part of the community than it used to be, but that’s not true for everyone. Trans people and queers of color are experiencing a lot of hardships right now, so it’s important to recognize that even within the community, there are varied experiences. But around the time I came out, was right after the time that Matthew Shepard was murdered in Wyoming. And I grew up in Colorado, so that event felt really personal.
Even though it was scary, it was also a really empowering time. Everybody started banding together in the sense that we all have each other’s backs, and we’re all going to protect each other from dangers to us and our community. That experience was definitely really important to my own personal identity development.
~Lacey Store Manager Abby Coleman, 10 years at Mud Bay
My first Pride was my first as a Mud Bay manager, too. I had recently been promoted to manager at Broadway at Thomas, and we decided we wanted to be part of the Capitol Hill Pride Street fair that’s now at Cal Anderson Park.
Starting in the sixties, a lot of LGBT people made their homes in Capitol Hill, so Pride’s a big deal for our store’s neighborhood and really important to our staff. We decorated our store and put rainbow banners in the windows and tried to do whatever we could to make our very small Mud Bay location look more festive.
We wanted to have a presence at both the street fair and something commemorating Pride at our store. So, we had a Pride-themed photobooth that had a view of the Seattle skyline and a rainbow banner at the store, and we had a dog pool out in front of the Mud Bay.
And we had made our own dog bandanas and hand-stenciled 250 to 300 of them with a Mud Bay logo and handed them out at our street fair booth. We also put together a gift basket for the dog drag show that happens every year. We happened to be right across the street from Julia’s, which is a brunch place that also does drag. And they had a big stage out front, and there was music, dancing, and singing all day long. It was all really fun.
I remember it being hectic because as the manager I was walking between the booth and store multiple times that day. But I also remember that it was the first Pride right after the Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage nationwide, so everyone was just riding this incredible high. We were all like: Yes! Finally! We can all get married. It felt like a big turning point and being able to have it be my first Pride as well was amazing.
~New Business Entrepreneur Cody Clarke, 5 years at Mud Bay
So, my actual first Pride was with Mud Bay. I was the assistant manager of the Olympia store, and Abby Coleman was the manager, and we decided to have a booth in downtown Olympia for Pride. A few weeks before, we decorated our windows for Pride and got a store artist to create a big “Mud Bay Loves Pride” sign in the window. We also had flags that spanned the whole front and a big bouquet of balloons on our A-frame outside the day of Pride.
But for those weeks leading up to Pride, there was this excitement, and I remember a lot of our customers were really excited that we were going to be at Pride when they saw all of our decorations. So, the day of Pride, we had the booth right outside of the old Urban Onion next to Sylvester Park. And the entertainment would get ready at the Urban Onion and walk right by us, and there were people rollerblading all over and having fun.
One thing that sticks in my mind was running into two of our customers. This couple had been together for over 30 years, and I said to them “You guys are my favorite couple.” And I remember them thanking us for supporting them, and it was just so impactful for me. I was so proud to be able to be out in the community showing our support. In stores, we want to make everyone feel welcome, but going to Pride took it to another level.
It felt free. And you could act any way you wanted and dress any way you wanted. And it just reinforced that we’re all just the same. The whole day was 100-percent a celebration for everyone. It was just all of us being together in one place, having a good time, laughing and supporting one another, and having our own personalities come out. It was just a judgment-free zone, and it was one of the best days I have ever had.
~New Business Entrepreneur Kristy Black, 5 years at Mud Bay