This queer light of mine, I’m going to let it shine

Proud to be in Renton during Pride month

Did you know it’s LGBTQ Pride Month?

If you didn’t, you’ve either been under a large rock or are willfully choosing to ignore nearly all media around you. But again, if you read our paper then you do know, since we have gladly displayed stories of Pride events and more the last few editions.

We received mixed opinions about our choice to place a photo of the United Christian Church’s doors on our front page. I’m writing this column knowing it will run adjacent to a letter I received condemning the City of Renton’s choice to raise a Pride flag, and also Dungeons and Dragons being displayed at the local museum.

As a bisexual role-playing game enthusiast, I can’t help but wonder how such ignorance can still persist in 2019.

Seeing the hate against the United Christian Church broke my heart. Seeing it happen a second time made me hang my head. It reminded me of the type of discrimination me and my peers faced not so long ago.

Growing up in a conservative state, and inside a very conservative church, I had to protect the vulnerable parts of my identity. I did not have the same rights as my straight friends when it came to who I could marry, where I could live and where I could work. In Idaho, LGBTQ identities are not protected under the state constitution, giving employers, landlords and others the right to exclude me based on who I was choosing to date at the moment.

Living now in Western Washington has been a freeing experience. Myself and nearly all of my LGBTQ friends who I grew up with in Idaho have moved out west to a more welcoming environment.

Some of my closest friends, two gay women who are married to each other, had to pretend they slept in different rooms so their landlord wouldn’t possibly kick them out of their home of four-years.

While working as a reporter at my first full-time job out of college, I had to cover the murder of a local college professor. He was gay and on the day of his murder he thought he was meeting with another gay man. Instead he was met with violence.

That’s what I moved away from, and it is disheartening to see these types of ignorant acts in such a progressive city like Renton.

I’m not even the best person to voice and represent LGBTQ folk in Renton and surrounding areas. I have the privilege of being in a heterosexual relationship, which makes others presume I am straight until told otherwise. And I definitely cannot speak for my LGBTQ brothers and sisters of different races.

But I am the editor, I have a small soap box I was given, so I will use it.

Pride Month is not a month for LGBTQ people to act “better than” others or to “shove their lifestyle in your face.” Like Juneteenth is for our black friends, Pride is a way for us queer friends to look back on times where we had to persevere. Persevere against discrimination, violence and shame.

Maybe the last bits of ignorance against us is generational. Maybe it’s learned, or maybe it’s part of certain cultures. I just hope it starts to fade.

Pride month is our chance to be OK with who we are. That’s still a relatively new concept for me. I only came out to myself seven years ago. For some, this may be the first year they have fully embraced who they are and who they love. It’s a celebration of diversity. Young, old, black, white, brown, Christian, Atheist, Pagan, Muslim, short, tall, man, women, non-binary and everything in between is celebrated at Pride. You can be celebrated too.

I’m proud to be the editor for the paper in Renton. I’m proud to see a city finally deciding to embrace a large minority group living within its borders. I’m proud of a neighborhood that lent a helping hand to the local church after facing multiple acts of vandalism.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, go online and look at Haley Ausbun’s most recent article about the vigil held at United Christian Church last weekend. Embedded there is a video that I hope brings you as much hope and joy as it brought me. The video is of vigil goers singing the classic children’s hymn, “This Little Light of Mine.”

Take a moment and look at the group. It includes men, women, Muslims, Christians, people of all races and all sexual identities together singing as a group. There’s no arguing, there’s no divisive comments. No one side or the other. Just community, proud to be together and singing in joy.

That’s what is Pride is really about.