I don’t believe I will ever cease to be amazed and inspired by the generous and courageous people I meet and talk to every day in Idaho who are standing up for LGBTQ equality, and nothing brings that message home better than a road trip through the state for Pride Foundation.
August took me to both the northern and eastern parts of the state, starting in Moscow, where I teamed up with eastern Washington colleague Farand Gunnels and four volunteers from Spokane and Coeur d’Alene for Palouse Pride, co-sponsored by Pride Foundation. More than 300 turned out for the annual celebration, which included a march and park festival, and attendees dropped by our booth to learn more about our scholarship and grant programs. Event organizer and grantee Inland Oasis was the winning raffle drawing of a $100 donation from Pride Foundation.
Palouse Pride also gave me the opportunity to rally the crowd, reminding folks about Pride Foundation’s vision of a world that honors diversity and celebrates complete equality, and of the contributions we’ve made in the state toward the fulfillment of that vision, including $36,000 awarded in Idaho scholarships this year, and $20,000 in grants to Idaho organizations such as North Idaho AIDS Coalition and the University of Idaho’s Human Rights Access and Inclusion Office to expand the campus’ LGBTQ Safe Zone Program.
Moscow couple Rebecca Rod and Theresa Beaver later graciously hosted a Pride Foundation ice cream social fundraiser at their home, where Farand and I welcomed several new donors and LGBTQ equality supporters, including volunteer Jim Huggins, a new Idaho Grant Review Committee member this year.
My Gem State travels then took me to the eastern part of the state, starting in Pocatello for a fundraiser at the home of new donors Alissa Salmore and Mike Thomas, where I had the pleasure of meeting longtime Pocatello resident and social justice champion L.D. Wolfley and Susie Matsuura of 2Great4Hate, a Pocatello-based organization whose mission includes educating the public concerning issues of bigotry, supremacist messages, harassment and diversity.
I later met Susie and several other 2Great4Hate members to discuss the group’s efforts to help encourage the Pocatello City Council to pass a citywide LGBTQ non-discrimination ordinance. The Pocatello trip also included a visit with Tom Nestor and Kevin Lish, a couple launching a new LGBT youth center in the city called All Under One Roof.
My eastern Idaho outreach concluded in Idaho Falls, networking with a number of folks who particularly moved me with their collective dedication to fighting intolerance and discrimination. Among them: new donors Johannah Williams and Shannon Havins, Wayne and Cherie Stevens of the Eastern Idaho Chapter of PFLAG, and couple Theron McGriff and Nick Case of Breaking Boundaries, an Idaho Falls-based organization whose mission is to help those with HIV/AIDS in southeast Idaho live a life of independence and dignity, and to increase awareness and prevention by providing HIV/AIDS education to the community.
The trips both reminded and encouraged me that there are growing pockets of people in every corner of this great state I’m proud to call home who are stepping up every day to help make Idaho a safe and welcoming place for the LGBTQ community–and that’s definitely something worth celebrating.
Steve Martin is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Idaho. Email Steve.