The city of Kirkland proclaimed June as Pride month in the city and will be flying a flag acknowledging the LGBTQ community.
The proclamation was accepted by PFLAG Bellevue/Eastside chair Beth Lenholt. Pride month is a celebration of LGBTQ+ rights, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City that launched a nationwide push for civil rights.
Lenholt said in an interview that the city’s decision to recognize Pride month and fly a flag was important for people in the community.
“One of the reasons why this is so significant at this time, but any time it’s significant, because when a city issues a pride proclamation and some of them fly the Pride flag, it’s a visible display of support for the LGBTQ+ community, and that’s important to everyone, and especially in our youth to see themselves reflected in their community,” Lenholt said.
Other cities in the area also either made proclamations or are flying rainbow flags, including Bellevue for a second year and Bothell, which recognized the month for the first time. Lenholt accepted and spoke at the Kirkland proclamation. When she walked in, a youth saw her shirt and Pride pins. While they didn’t know the proclamation was happening they were excited to see Lenholt wearing them and stuck around to watch the ceremony, Lenholt said.
Proclamations also become public record, she added.
“I think that’s why this is one of the reasons why it’s important to fly the flag and have proclamations that are in the archives of the city and so they’re there for historical purposes as well,” Lenholt said. “I’m just grateful that they’ve reached a point where they feel this is important.”
People can support the LGBTQ+ community by doing a number of things ranging in size, Lenholt said. This can include anything from gestures like wearing pins or shirts supporting the community, to attending meetings. In particular, Lenholt is hoping to raise support for the federal Equality Act, which was recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. It would amend the Civil Rights Act to include protections for sexual orientation.
“During Pride month, and any time of the year, doing what you can to provide support to the LGBTQ+ community and especially our youth, will really make a difference in their lives,” Lenholt said.
PFLAG Bellevue/Eastside has events this month, including on June 17 at Bothell First United Methodist church, where a married couple from Utah will be sharing their experience of raising two gay children in the Mormon church. Additionally, at the June 20 meeting in Bellevue, writer and podcaster Matt Baume will be giving a presentation on LGBTQ+ themes in the media at the Bellevue First United Methodist Church.
Pride month was created to commemorate the Stonewall Inn riots of 1969 in New York City. At the time, police routinely harassed and arrested LGBTQ people, but gay and lesbian bars provided some sanctuary. However, after an early morning raid by police on the Stonewall Inn, riots broke out and police were pelted by bottles and other debris. The riots ultimately lasted for days and was spearheaded by transgender people and people of color. It would become a rallying cry and source of resistance and solidarity in the LGBTQ+ community.