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Kate Kristiansen: 'We are gay and we are proud. We are gay and our lives are valid.'

COURTESY PHOTO - Kate KristiansenThis year, Pride Beaverton has made a point of using the word gay, a lot.

On June 26, 2022, we're having a big gay parade, a gay celebration, gay entertainers and "much glittery gaiety" in and around City Park in Beaverton.

While there is no doubt that LGBTQA Pride celebrations are joyous, vibrant, widespread and occur internationally, they are only a small representation of what it means to live life as a member of the LGBTQA community.

At Pride Beaverton, we have decided to say gay as many times as we can to help counter the craziness of the world. We want to let the political forces that would minimize the importance of our gay families, gay love and gay existence know that we will not fade away quietly nor retreat to the shadows.

We are gay and we are proud. We are gay and our lives are valid. We are gay and our contributions are meaningful. We are gay and our love is real. We are gay and our families deserve equity and respect.

We will not stand by as elected officials actively legislate against our rights to live, be married, be parents, be safe, have bodily autonomy, be medically respected, be recognized and just be gay. This isn't about comfort or a "lifestyle choice" — this is life and death for our community. This is about gay lives being shortchanged and sacrificed because of bigotry and dogma.

Pride Beaverton stands with the gay community, every single "letter" of it — but we do not represent the gay community. The gay community is far grander, more diverse and important than any one group, parade or person. The gay community is being painted with a broad brush, a homogenization of homosexuality. That's not OK.

So we ask you, friends and allies, for the gay people you know (and especially the gay ones that you are not aware of), to stand up against discrimination in all its shades. Let your elected leaders know that all gay people are important. Let them know that bodily autonomy should belong to the body in question, not to a legislative body. That gay life, gay love and gay people deserve every bit of fight and protection as others.

We hope to see you at Pride in Beaverton in your glittering finest — while there is much work to do, there is also a lot of gay to celebrate.

Kate Kristiansen is executive director of Pride Beaverton.

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