Pride month has finally come to Renton.
A rainbow flag will rise in front of Renton City Hall June 17 to 23. Positive developments in queer visibility are starting to take shape in the city, both from local government and Rentonites on social media, as momentum is starting for a June 2020 pride event.
For the first time, Renton is raising the Pride Flag and proclaiming June as Pride Month. Mayor Denis Law called the proclamation in his newsletter last week “long overdue.”
The pride flag was donated by Plateaupians for Peace, a Sammamish nonprofit dedicate to promoting inclusivity.
According to a post on the nonprofit’s Facebook page, Renton Deputy Public Affairs Administrator Preeti Shridhar thanked the group for prompting her to ask the question that ultimately resulted in creating a Pride Month proclamation for the city.
This is Renton’s second proclamation for LGBTQ+ folks. It’s the first to mention queer identities. Renton’s first proclamation for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender individuals was in September 2014, for South King County Gay Pride day, in partnership with other cities.
Renton resident Chad Cashman-Crane said it’s a good representation of a progressive city responding to folks in Renton becoming more visible.
“Even thought it’s just a symbolic gesture it’s a significant advancement from where we have been,” he said.
Creating visibility from within
Renton residents have also been creating more visibility for the LGBTQ+ folks in the city, through social media. The hope is to coordinate Renton’s first pride parade for June 2020.
Cashman-Crane spearheaded the social media push. He moved to Renton two years ago, after living in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, when it got too pricey.
Cashman-Crane said he noticed surrounding cities were looking at pride events, and had felt isolated in Renton after living in an area with lots of events catered to his community. Then he saw various posts on social media ask the same questions about where Pride events were in Renton.
“I realized there must be energy out there,” Cashman-Crane said.
So he put together a page, “Renton LGBTQ Network,” on Facebook. Within the week they had over 100 members. He said there was a lot of excitement about a pride event for Renton.
Cashman-Crane said he hopes to create a festival for June 2020 that will be a park party with drag, bingo and other activities that can interest all age groups, from families to adults. He’s hoping it can be hosted at Gene Coulon Memorial Park or possibly Liberty Park, but they still need to get permitting.
“We want it to be a thing where everyone can access it, everyone feels comfortable to be themselves and everyone has something to be entertained by,” Cashman-Crane said.
Cashman-Crane also said he would like to see businesses pick up the baton and carry out events dedicated to the community, like queer nights at a bar or other social events. He said even a monthly event where he can meet neighbors who share his beliefs and issues would be less isolating.
“Sure there might be businesses with the flag,” he said. “But you don’t know if it’s a gay-specific bar or somewhere that LGBTQ+ people like to meet.”
The United Christian Church in Renton recently propped up six rainbow doors reading “God’s doors are open to all!” Minister Cynthia Meyer, who started at the Church in November after serving in Kansas, said this was one of the first clear, bold messages of their welcome.
“The church has a history of that commitment, but hasn’t been quite so bold to making a statement like this,” Meyer said.
Someone passing by on their bike saw the doors being put up, Meyer said, and they stopped to thanked them. She said they’ve received almost all positive feedback.
The display is a movement started by another United Church of Christ on the East Coast. There’s now a website where churches will post photos of their displays at godsdoors.org.
Other events this month:
More upcoming events at the King County library include a screening of “Love, Simon” at 4 p.m., June 17 at Renton Highlands Library and a screening of “The Trans List” at 3 p.m., June 23 at Fairwood library. There’s also a family program, “Drag Queen Story Hour,” 7 to 8 p.m., June 27 at Fairwood Library.
King County Library is also hosting a pride celebration designed by teens, for teens, at 1 to 7 p.m., June 22, at the downtown Renton library. More information is available here.