2023 Wenatchee Pride Draws Thousands to Celebrate LGBTQ+ Culture
Thousands gathered at Memorial Park on Saturday, to celebrate and empower the LGBTQ+ community.
Last year, Wenatchee Pride shared that over 4,000 people attended their event, and that they provided space for approximately 70 vendors.
Events Coordinator Ashley Peterson says that this year they added 20 more vendors to the event, commissioned more drag queen performers, along with bringing two new bouncy houses for the kids and hiring private security from Pacific Security.
With the hundreds of thriving and proud LGBTQ+ individuals and allies who attended Pride, there were also a couple dozen anti-LGBTQ+ protestors who stayed along the outskirts of the event.
Peterson said that the protestors were more outspoken last year than they were during this year’s event.
“They're sticking to one zone whereas last year they were a little more vocal and getting in people's faces,” Peterson said. “I think it's just gonna roll, they're allowed to be there and we just instruct everyone to not engage. Everyone got a little safe card to tell us how to report and we're going good.”
One of the anti-LGBTQ+ protestors in attendance was Pastor John Smith from Cashmere, who came to the event with a GoPro attached to his chest, saying that it keeps him and others accountable.
When asked about the five churches tabled at Pride that are accepting of their LGBTQ+ followers, Pastor Smith said those churches have rejected Jesus Christ.
“Our job as Christians, is to not burn sin, but to point sin out so that we can also point to the savior of sinners, which is Jesus Christ,” Pastor Smith claimed. “So I would say those affirming churches need to repent and believe the Bible.”
Pride lasted between 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and nearly all of the anti-LGBTQ+ protestors left by the time 6 p.m. rolled around.
Soraya Martinez with Wenatchee Youth Community says her organization accepts everyone between grades 6-12, regardless of religious affiliation.
“It's more of a safe place for allies, people in the LGBTQ+ community, and we just want to create a good place for everyone,” Martinez said.
Martinez said that Wenatchee youth are trying their best to combat against discrimination towards people of color and to those in the LGBTQ+ community within their school system.
“I've dealt with it and had to switch to Westside High School, which is a more accepting space for me,” Martinez said. “Just not reprimanding the students if there is an issue, more of a slap on the wrist and go, and continue to be homophobic or racist and we're not really dealing with actual problems.”
Last month, the Wenatchee School District had a packed school board meeting after a couple community members wanted to visit the WHS library, in order to remove certain books containing LGBTQ+ themes.
One organization working to combat the rise in book censorship is Left Bank Books, an independent bookstore from Seattle.
“We carry books that other places don't have, we often will have window displays that are on abortion or on queer and trans rights, the kind of current issues that the right-wing kind of backlash against, to try to make books available for people,” Left Bank Books Collective member Quinn said.
He said that thankfully they haven’t had any backlash while in Wenatchee.
A national organization known as Free Mom Hugs did what their name implies– give free hugs from moms.
Local mom Tami said she gives hugs in order to remind people that they are still loved unconditionally.
“Sometimes when people come out, they're not accepted by their family,” Tami said. “So a group of moms got together and they're like, screw that, we're gonna take you in and we're gonna love you, so we came out here to show everyone that we love them and we give them hugs.”