National Coming Out Day was a busy one in southern Idaho for Pride Foundation this year with no less than four events going on in the Boise area in recognition and celebration of the LGBTQ community.
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when October 11 was just another date here in the Gem State. Idaho is historically a very conservative state with a legislature that year after year denies even printing a bill that would add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to the Idaho Human Rights Act. Despite these barriers, it is truly heartening to see growing pockets of mainstream support of the LGBTQ community around this special day, including a week’s worth of activities at both University of Idaho and Boise State University.
One of those events at Boise State on October 11 included a non-discrimination human rights city ordinance messaging and advocacy training. The training, organized by the ACLU of Idaho and Equality Utah, was attended by about 110 people, including Pride Foundation board member and Idaho Leadership Action Team (LAT) member Emilie Jackson-Edney. The motivation and timing for the training originated in part from a summer brainstorming session between ACLU, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, Add the Words Idaho, and Pride Foundation. The cities of Boise and Pocatello are currently considering citywide LGBTQ non-discrimination ordinances.
Earlier in the day, Emilie also represented Pride Foundation at a National Coming Out Day information fair, annually hosted by the Albertsons/Supervalu grocery chain at its corporate office headquarters in Boise. Pride Foundation was invited for the first time to table at the event so Albertsons employees could learn more about our programs.
Later that night, Idaho LAT member Stephanie Bell and her husband Bart rocked out during their second Equality Rocks! all-ages concert fundraiser for Pride Foundation, held in downtown Boise. Five Idaho bands, including the Bells’ own Hot Dog Sandwich, donated their time and talent in support of LGBTQ equality. Dozens attended the concert, including Idaho LAT volunteer Chris Cooke, who helped table a Pride Foundation booth at the event, and Idaho 2012 Scholar Marisol Cervantes.
Cervantes was also among about 20 LGBTQ and ally youth who enjoyed a “Behind the Scenes” evening with Boise-based Trey McIntyre Project Dance Company on National Coming Out Day. The Trey McIntyre Project is a professional dance troupe that tours nationally and internationally. Pride Foundation collaborated on this event, which included a look at the dancers’ rehearsal process, performance of a few pieces, and a questions and answers session. Four of the dancers, including Executive Director and dancer John Michael Schert, talked openly and honestly about their coming out experiences, which motivated many of the youth to share their own stories.
It was an encouraging and moving day for the Idaho LGBTQ community, and in particular for myself, who also celebrated his 16-year anniversary with life partner Jim Smith.
Steve Martin is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Idaho. Email Steve.