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‘Important to be Seen’
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Saturday, June 25, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

The Sawtooth Botanical Garden never looked more colorful, thanks to dozens of rainbow-colored Pride flags flapping in the breeze.

And more community organizations and businesses jumped on board this year, helping to extend the Pride Festival from one event to four.

But a dark cloud hung over the push to celebrate diversity, as someone ripped down Pride flags that had been hoisted along Boise’s Harrison Boulevard, as an Idaho pastor called for LGBTQ people to be executed and as 31 white nationalists staged a thwarted attempt to riot at a Pride event in Coeur d’Alene.

Those events were precisely why Pride events need to happen, said Jen Smith, one of the organizers of this past week’s Pride events in the Wood River Valley.

“It makes it crucially important, incredibly important, to be seen,” she said. “Everybody deserves to feel valued and celebrated. We’re just excited that we’ve been so well received by the community, that the community was happy to do Pride in the Garden again and that we’ve seen so much interest. We capped the event at 150 people last year, and we capped it at 200 this year.”

Pride Events designed to educate communities started in 1970 following the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village where the gay community protested a police raid targeting gay people.  

“Now, it’s a time to celebrate who we are by coming together and allowing our allies to come together,” said Meghan Myrick. “The participation of allies is so important.  Members of the LGBTQ community are always looking for safe spaces, and the more allies we have, the safer we feel.”

About 50 youth turned out for the second annual Pride in the Garden. Some dressed as princesses and carried unicorns, a symbol of individualism. Others were delighted to dress in tutus, feather boas,  colorful stripes and polka dots.

Among them: 10-year-old Georgia Bogue who had founded the Good Deeds Club. The idea sprouted from Bogue’s distress at seeing trash in the streets and beaches of a town her family visited in Mexico. Every chance she got she would take an armful to the dumpster.

Upon her return to the Wood River Valley, she formed the Good Deeds Club. Its 15 members held a Christmas gift drive for the families at the Wood River YMCA. And they held a bake sale at the Pond Hockey Tournament, giving the money they made to Mountain Humane animal shelter and hospital workers for lunch money.

“You do what you can do,” Bogue said.

With so many children in attendance, Jana Arnold served up juice boxes at the bar, alongside wine and beer. Festival-goers munched on sliders and tater tots as they watched performance art and broke out the dance shoes. Face painting took its pace alongside a rainbow-striped piece of art that artist Christine Warjone raffled off.

The next evening Amy Harris and Traci Ireland hung tiny Pride flags outside Despo’s, and diners crowded onto the patio to watch performers in drag perform cartwheels in what Smith said is something that’s considered an art form.

Passersby stopped to watch as servers clad in rainbow colors passed out an array of cupcakes with icing the colors of the rainbow, and diners began getting up and dancing themselves.

“The Sawtooth Botanical Garden is four miles that way. If you haven’t been there, you’re likely a local,” Smith quipped as she explained to diners how the second annual Pride Festival had begun in the garden and would end with a Pride Ride of decorated bicycles.

Those watching the show feasted on a buffet of Mexican food as they handed out dollar bills to the performers who tucked them under baskets of chips.

“Tips are good,” said one performer. “It ain’t cheap to look like this.”

Among those watching the show was Jane’s Artifacts’ owner Jane Drussel, who had brought a table full of employees to celebrate one employee’s birthday.

“Isn’t this the best night ever?” she said.

Terri Niedrich agreed: “I love my community and I love whatever we can do to support one another.”

As Thursday’s fun wound down, Sun Valley Resort hosted a free showing of “Mama Bears,” a documentary that followed the stories of mothers who tried to deny that their children were gay, then embraced it, going to bat for their children to get bathroom rights in schools.

One mother began offering free hugs to children and adults in a movement that eventually spread to all 50 states. Another volunteered to stand in as mother for gay men and women whose own mothers refused to attend weddings and other important milestones.

“It showed how we all can be more inclusive. It showed how a mother’s love for her child is so strong that she’ll do anything to create a better world for her child and others,” said Myrick.

Jen Smith said the week’s events were worth it if it enables one child to be comfortable with who he or she is.

“I think’s it’s great to see the Sun Valley area throw its support behind the LGBTQ community,” said Bridget Higgins. “Sometimes in small towns you don’t see that kind of support.”

Christine Warjone concurred: “I feel so touched by the diversity and inclusion. I can’t imagine condemning anyone. We need to lift people up, instead.”

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