by Adair Gearhardt -
Special to the SGN
By most accounts, July 23rd brought a morning like any other in Snohomish County: a chilly stillness with the sun easing up over the horizon to burn off the dew that clung heavily to...well, everything. However, in American Legion Memorial Park (Everett, Wa), there was barely a thought given to the promise of impending warmth. It was 8am and there was a lot to do: people scurried frantically to wire speakers, pop-up canopies, hang decorations, and chug caffeine. For Phoenix Benner, Beth Johnson, and Adair Gearhart, the dream they'd spent months cultivating was about to become a reality.
Phoenix, having recently moved north from Seattle, had been driven to do something about the noticeable lack of LGBT+ representation in his new surroundings. He then recruited Beth, Adair, Tony, and Joanie to help him meet this need so desperately felt by Snohomish County. Adair, upon realizing that 'even Spokane has a pride celebration,' was eager to help round up entertainment. Tony and Joanie brought in their PFLAG and non-profit expertise to get resource tables set up while Beth offered to gathered volunteers to help the event run smoothly.
Though there was certainly some chaos, set up went off without a major hitch and the show was ready to start promptly at 11am. Emcee David Bayless strode onto the stage in a combination of top hat, button-down shirt, and dress jacket paired with fishnets and heels. He looked fabulous. He first introduced Rich Welch, a Tulalip tribal member, to give a blessing for the day that ended up being joined by a bald eagle soaring overhead. Everyone took that to mean that things were going to go well that day.
After Rich, David introduced mayor pro tem, Judy Tuohy, to deliver a proclamation that July 23rd, 2017 would be recognized as SnoHomo Pride day. Following her, Kai, a local 11-year-old trans gender boy representing The Connection (http://theconnectiontm.bigcartel.com), came up to share his story. It was beautifully articulated, moving several in the audience to tears.
Up next? Drag Militia from Bellingham, followed by music from David Johnson, Jessice Drugge, the Saxodies, later followed by the Trinity Episcopal Church choir, 2 Drag King sets by Dapper Down Productions, a burlesque performance by Madame Ceci Cloutier, and a closing performance by Mr. Gay Bellingham 2017, Schoen Wood.
Tucked in amongst the musical performances were guest speakers Congressman Rick Larsen, Ned DeSalvo, GLOBE youth, and Alessandra Durham, a representative from the office of Snohomish County Executive David Somers.
In addition to the celebratory afternoon of stage performances and speakers, were a number of tables providing information about local non-profit organizations, free face painting by Emerald City Arts, and free balloon animals by Beyond Belief Entertainment.
One of the comments that seemed to come up most among attendees was that SnoHomo Pride had a great energy with a 'down home' type feel. With only approximately 300 guests throughout the day, it was wildly different from Seattle Pride, which is to be expected given the vast difference in location and budget.
However, the SnoHomo Pride crew feels that it was a great success for Snohomish County's first year. Bearing in mind some of the feedback they've already gotten, they definitely look forward to doing it again next year: bigger, better, and representing an even larger group of wonderful individuals. There is even some talk of putting the touchy subject of the name up for a public vote.
Tables: AIDS Outreach Project, Camp Ten Trees, Cocoon House, CCC, Everett Clinic, Snohomish Gay Men's Task Force, Gender Justice League, GLOBE, GSBA, HSDC, Jet City Roller Girls, Lifelong, PFLAG Everett, QBASS, Resist Everett, SGN, Snohomish County Human Rights Commission, St. Philips Episcopal, Trinity Episcopal, YMCA.
Sponsors: Panache Clothing, Everett Community SPARKS Neighborhood Fund, Pride Foundation, AIDS Project Snohomish County, Everett/Snohomish PFLAG.
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