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June 29, 07
V 35 Issue 26

 
 
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Bellingham to host first Gay Pride Parade - Three days of activities offered
For the first year ever, Bellingham is proud to be holding a Gay Pride Parade. Previously, the city would have one day and one small festival to celebrate Pride. No one had taken the initiative in earlier years to set up a parade. Changes this year are more than tripling the events, with three days of activities starting on Friday, July 13. Organized by the local PFLAG chapter, the festivities will cumulate with the Pride Parade and Festival on Sunday, July 15.

Every year since 2002, there has been a Pride Festival in the city, getting larger and larger as time goes by. This year brings the 6th Annual Festival, only the second of a grand nature. Organizers have made the celebrations far superior than past efforts, and have even received an endorsement from the Mayor of Bellingham for this years event.

Prior to last year, it was about a half a dozen tables at a park that was not really in Bellingham, commented Nick Milhoan, one of this year's organizers.

The festivities will kick off on Friday night with an anniversary party for the Betty Pages (the local Gay/Lesbian paper) at Rumors Cabaret. After everyone has partied through the wee morning hours, an activist-led workshop will be taking place on Saturday from 1 p.m.-5p.m. Dotti Berry and Roby Sapp, the two women who formed Gay Into Straight America, will teach the workshop. The couple has taken their poodle and ventured around the country in an effort to grow awareness of Queer issues and open minds to new ways of viewing Lesbians and Gays.

For those who dont wish to go to the workshop, there are other activities to choose from. There is going to be a family picnic/potluck at Whatcom Falls Park from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. The potluck will have lots of tasty food and a chance for some calm social interaction. For the indoor lovers and film enthusiasts in the city, there will be with a screening of Inlaws & Outlaws on both Saturday and Sunday at the Pickford Cinema. Shows begin at 4:30 p.m. each afternoon. That evening, activists, film-watchers, and potluck-going friends can all meet up again at Rumors for another party.

Sunday is the day that everyone seems most excited about: the first ever Bellingham Pride Parade. It will begin at 11 a.m. at Bellingham High School and go down to Depot Market Square on Railroad Avenue, where the Festival will take place directly following the Parade and continue until 5 oclock that evening.

We felt it was time for us to move beyond just a small gathering and really get our community involved. Though many people don't know it, there is a very large Gay and Lesbian community in Bellingham and we need to give those that can't make it to Vancouver and Seattle another option, added Milhoan.

Many residents of Bellingham take trips to larger cities, like Seattle and Vancouver, to go to Gay clubs and Pride celebrations. There was never much of an opportunity before for the Queer population to attend local Gay events and big celebrations. PFLAG decided to sponsor the event, planning and creating the festivities, because they felt the citys need for a closer community. Instead of pushing Gay residents outside of the area, they are starting to offer more events and grow the Queer community stronger.

Its the perfect time for smaller cities like Bellingham to move in and capitalize on the movement that is taking place in our country and really bring those that live in these smaller towns together to form a sense of belonging and community, concluded Milhoan. We hope next year to get even bigger and maybe branch out more, though, with only a half dozen people on this committee, it might take a few more to get to that point.

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