The Monroe Equity Council has planned what is believed to be the city’s first public Pride Month event with a program of activities, art, music and stories from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 27, at Sky River Park. (Monroe Equity Council)

The Monroe Equity Council has planned what is believed to be the city’s first public Pride Month event with a program of activities, art, music and stories from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 27, at Sky River Park. (Monroe Equity Council)

Pride gatherings planned for Everett, Monroe this weekend

The in-person events are places for community and support of LGBTQIA people.

EVERETT — June is Pride Month, and pride is the cause of celebrations Saturday in Everett and Sunday in Monroe.

The gatherings are envisioned by organizers as places where people should be proud of who they are: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and other expressions of sexuality and gender identification.

“I think it’s important to take some time and celebrate the community, come together and support each other,” said Natalia Tune, the lead organizer for Everett Pride Picnic in the Park. “But it’s also an acknowledgement of the work that’s been done and what’s ahead.”

Several decades ago, most states outlawed homosexuality with “sodomy” laws.

Snohomish County had its first LGBTQ gathering in 2017, when Marysville resident Phoenix Benner and others organized the Snohomo Pride Festival.

Today, same-sex marriage is legal across the country and a record-high 70% of Americans reportedly support it.

The Monroe Equity Council has planned what is believed to be Monroe’s first public Pride Month gathering.

“We will look back one day and remember we made history with this event,” Monroe Equity Council Board President Melanie Ryan said. “We invite everybody to make history with us.”

But people continue to discriminate and harm those in the LGBTQ+ community. In 2019, there were 1,395 offenses identified as being motivated by sexual orientation, according to FBI hate crime data.

Nichole Webber, an executive project coordinator in Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin’s administration, said her friends, who don’t present themselves in gender-conforming ways, have been targets of derision when passersby remark, “What is that?” or “What is it?”

That was one reason she got involved in helping plan Everett Pride Picnic in the Park, scheduled for noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Forest Park, 802 E. Mukilteo Blvd.

“I am really privileged to present as straight, whereas a lot of my community members don’t have that,” Webber said.

Snohomo Pride Festival ran through 2019, but the pandemic scuttled last year’s event. With uncertainty swirling around in-person gatherings because of the COVID-19 pandemic, nothing was scheduled by spring in Snohomish County.

Tune, who founded the SnoCo LGBTQIA+ Collective, started in April working with Franklin and Webber, as well as the city’s Youth Advisory Committee and Diversity Advisory Committee that Tune is part of, on hosting a Pride event in Everett.

They wanted to focus it as a time for people to learn together, so the first hour features speeches, including keynote speaker Jesse Jorstad of Lake Stevens.

“The rest of it’s just going to be getting to know each other and socializing,” Tune said. “I wanted the whole point of it to be us getting to know each other because most of us have only met online.”

It’s designed to be family-friendly, and dogs are welcome. With temperatures possibly hitting the 90s, the splash pad near the playground should be an inviting spot, too.

Back in spring, the Monroe Equity Council formed an 11-person volunteer committee to plan its own pride event. From there, word spread quickly, and soon they heard from people who wanted to attend, join or support the festivities from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at Sky River Park, 413 Sky River Parkway.

“I can’t tell you how many people called us crying with joy,” Ryan said. “I grew up in Monroe and I never thought I’d see this.”

The group secured over 60 vendors, a main stage program with dance, entertainment, improv, music and speakers, a community art project, coloring stations, a “smooch the pooch” kissing booth, Blitz the Pride pony, and water stations. Gina Touché, a drag performer, is scheduled to sing, as well.

“There is quite a bit to do and have fun with,” Ryan said. “We still have a long ways to go. There are still rights that aren’t granted to LGBTQ people and there are rights that have been granted that are threatened to be taken away.”

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