Sometimes you just need to know that you’re not alone.
In the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley, the LGBT community does not have adequate support, said Myndie VanHorn, event organizer. This results in fragmented pockets of LGBT people, she said, who feel isolated, fear discrimination and are unsure if they will be accepted by others. Celebrate Love seeks to change that.
“It’s just one event, but it’s something,” said VanHorn.
A focus of the event is to emphasize safety in numbers. Not only is the event intended to provide a place where LGBT people can gather and connect, VanHorn said, but it’s a place where they can identify others in the larger community who are allies.
“People need to know people are on their side that are not LGBT,” VanHorn said.
The first Celebrate Love event took place last year, largely in response to the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people and wounded 58 others. VanHorn was having conversations about organizing an event for summer 2017 but after the shooting occurred they decided to respond immediately and organized an event in 10 days. Around 600 people attended.
The first event was intended to show support for the LGBT community, both locally and elsewhere. One of the significant things that happened at last year’s event, VanHorn said, was participants recognizing faces and seeing that there were more LBGT people and allies in the community than they had thought.
Though June is considered to be Pride Month, in which events are held to celebrate sexual diversity, Celebrate Love is taking place in July for scheduling reasons. It has the added benefit, VanHorn said, of freeing those in the valley up to attend pride events elsewhere in the region.
Besides the community event, Celebrate Love LCV is initiating a safe zone project that identifies LGBT-friendly local businesses with a sticker that can be displayed in a window or entrance. This is common in other communities, VanHorn said, and helps those frequenting or working in those businesses to know they won’t face discrimination for revealing their sexual orientation or showing affection on a date, for example.
A Pride Prom will be held 9 p.m. Friday at Hogan’s Pub at 906 6th St. in Clarkston. The event is for ages 21 and older and will include a DJ and photographer, much like a high school prom. People are invited to dress up if they would like.
The LGBT initialism has a growing number of letters and symbols intended to be more inclusive to those that identify outside the represented letters. You may see LGBTQ, LGBTQIA and LGBTQIAPK, along with any of those variations with a “+” on the end. The meanings of these letters and symbols varies somewhat. What is the correct term? “I like to use LGBTQIA+,” said VanHorn. She wants to be inclusive, but agreed that the initialism is a bit long.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Celebrate Love 2017
WHEN: Noon to 9 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Pioneer Park, Lewiston