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LGBTQ seniors shine as "Pillars of Pride"

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On Sunday, April 28, GenPride held its "Pillars of Pride 2024: Honoring the Silver in the Rainbow" event to celebrate the legacy of Queer seniors with awards, performances by Aleksa Manila and Gaysha Starr, and a unique brunch experience.

"Our elders have laid the foundation of bravery and love that has empowered our community," said Judy Kinney, the executive director of GenPride, in a press release. "'Honoring the Silver in the Rainbow' is our theme this year to celebrate their incredible journey and to acknowledge their pivotal role in our ongoing fight for equality."

2024 Pillars of Pride awardees
This year featured seven award winners and six different awards.

The "Building Legacies" award went to attorney at law Dean Sargent, who has been an active force in the Queer community since the 1970s, when he was one of the first openly Gay attorneys in the state and has continued to be a leader to this day. He currently works as the director of the Lillian Miller Foundation, where he contributes to fostering a more inclusive artistic community, supporting Trans and Indigiqueer artists through fellowships.

The "Building Belonging" award went to Paul Green and Isaac Payne.

Green has been working tirelessly for over 40 years to address the needs of Queer people of color, and he has also been integral in helping those living with HIV/AIDS since the disease surfaced. In recent years, Green opened Jackson Street Collective, a barber shop that serves as a gathering space for community organizing.

Payne has played an essential role in shaping Seattle's Black LGBTQ+ community through years of organizing, board leadership, and mentorship. Most notably, his work as a board member for Black Pride has led to numerous events and parties that both provided a celebration space and promoted solidarity and connection among attendees.

The "Community Catalyst" award went to Alma Goddard, a 73-year-old Chicana and Two-Spirit elder who is influential within the Queer community and Pacific Northwest tribes. Her repertoire of achievements includes aiding Native women and children, co-founding numerous Lesbian organizations, playing clarinet for Harvey Milk's campaign, and being an advocate against gender-based violence.

The "Iconic Artistry" award went to Christine Wheeler-Sinclair, who opened Seattle's first Lesbian-owned café in 1980, organized the first National Women of Color in the Arts Festival/Conference in Seattle in 1994, and founded the "Art Bridge Project" in the early 2000s to address the creative needs of Queer youth. In recent years she has continued her advocacy through volunteering for the Southeast Seattle Senior Center and the GenPride center.

The "Volunteer Virtuoso" award went to Rita Smith, who has dedicated over 40 years to the LGBTQ+ community in Seattle by serving as a board member and group facilitator for the Lesbian Resource Center, the Seattle Safe Schools Coalition, and the City of Seattle Commission for Sexual Minorities, and by being part of the founding board of Gen Pride. She continues her activism today by managing GenPride's Facebook groups, facilitating forums for Old Lesbians for Change, and helping first-generation college-bound students with applications.

The "Rainbow Partnership" award went to Pride Across the Bridge (PAB), a nonprofit that wants to change the perception that Seattle is the only support system for the Queer community. The organization acknowledges the abundance of wealth on the Eastside and uses it to ensure that local resources are accessible to everyone in the Queer community.

Those interested in donating to GenPride can visit https://genprideseattle.org/donate