A History of Wenatchee Pride
A History of Wenatchee Pride Board
Today’s iteration of the Wenatchee Pride festival started with a Facebook post by Diane Heninger on May 13th, 2017. A plea for help to organize a Pride rally in Wenatchee. Aaron Seaman and Jillian Danley responded, and the three met at Shari’s a few evenings later. Over coffee and pie, the trio came up with a few ideas, and it all began to fall into place.
Six weeks later, with the help of Cascade Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, a handful of organizers and volunteers, and some luck, Wenatchee Pride blossomed. There were a few speeches by community leaders (thank you, Donny Guerrero, ashley olson, Diane Heninger, and Matthew Hepner), tabling organizations, donated cookies and snacks, and live music (thank you, Olivia Passmore and Matt Terry).
Our goal was to 1) Bring people together 2) Celebrate & honor our history and 3) Speak to the ongoing legislative challenges faced by our LGBTQ+ family. At the time, Initiative 1552 (an anti-trans bathroom bill) was on the horizon, and we left that day with 5 pages of signatures on a “Decline to Sign” pledge. At the end of the day, the organizers left with $200 in a (literal) coffee can and the intention to plan a bigger and bolder event for 2018--somehow!
The 2017 event wouldn’t have happened without our first volunteers & allies (Lauren Dilly, Jason Myers, Tina Stadther, Rebecca Hersel, Katie Marshall, Kelly Anderson, and Sunshine Poliquin) or without the efforts of the Wenatchee Valley College QSA, who had organized the very successful May 2017 campus Pride event! Major kudos to you amazing college students and your continued efforts to empower your community.
In January 2018, Rochelle Bohm and Katie Grove were discussing their dream of another Pride event in Wenatchee with two friends, Phil Gansereit and Eddie Chaidez. The four called on a mutual friend, Jillian Danley, to help advise a second Wenatchee Pride festival. Pretty soon, the event was growing larger than anyone had anticipated, and the group brought on Tanya Gleason and a number of volunteers (thank you, Sunshine Poliquin, Nick Sowle, Ava Schroeder, Nick Kendall, Spectrum members, and everyone who passed out flyers, shared our events, and more).
In early spring there was a billboard on Wenatchee Avenue announcing the event! After months of daily planning, weekly meetings, and long hours, Wenatchee Pride 2018 was an enormous success. Thank you to the 2018 Pride Board for their hard work and dedication to not only pull off a large scale event with nearly 1,400 people in attendance but to also build the structure for a non-profit organization that can move our vision for this region forward. Thank you to Pybus for hosting our event; to Columbia Valley Brewing for the brats and brews; to Cobrahawk, Marina Obscura, Cowboy Dan, and Michael Carlos for traveling and delighting us with your music all day long; to Yeti Chocolates, Rhubarb Market, and the Cheesemongers for having or selling Pride merch, Amerigroup for being our lead sponsor, and SO MANY other people, organizations, and businesses.
The Wenatchee Pride Board has evolved, and we look forward to carrying out the mission and vision of our organization and serving our community. Our success has been fueled by the brave efforts of our community members who came before us, and we honor you!
On Your Shoulders: A History of Pride Events & LGBTQ+ Advocacy in Wenatchee
In December of 2015, a group of concerned people came together in response to finding out conversion therapy was happening in our valley. Thank you to Carol Smith, Denali White, Reverend Laura Shennum, Laurie Flarity-White, and Ashley Olson for your early leadership; your ongoing support and efforts lead to meeting broader needs of our community for advocacy, education, and community building.
Out of these efforts, the Spectrum was born. Many of you are Spectrum’s early supporters: individuals coming together with a vision of a more inclusive community. The Spectrum met frequently, grew their mailing list, gathered for food, took action, and built a network of almost 300 people. A more formal and intentional network helped LGBTQ people new and olad were able to call on a trusted network of support in Wenatchee.
Which was only possible because of the vision of people in the past who hosted Pride events in Wenatchee. To those few who hosted gatherings and celebrations in their homes and at their businesses in the past, we thank you and we honor you. Thank you Sara Monk, Lisa Newton, and Wally’s House of Booze for your Taste the Rainbow Events; Ken and Kurtis for your Cashmere Pride Events; and for each of you who had a vision for this to happen. With all of that community energy and existing enthusiasm and love, a few committed people worked hard and hosted Wenatchee Pride 2017, 2018, and now 2019.
Both the 2017 and 2018 Wenatchee Pride events served to grow the Spectrum’s mailing list and the network grew bigger and more powerful. The Wenatchee Pride’s Facebook page has grown to nearly 800 people--thank you to YOU!
Our Present and Our Future
For a time, Spectrum was still gathering and trying to meet the growing needs of the community by hosting events and meetings until November/December 2018. At that time, leaders from both Wenatchee Pride Board and Spectrum came together with a deep desire to talk about organizing together for a more sustainable movement.
After much planning, strategizing, and honest discussion of meeting our community’s needs, Spectrum leadership made the difficult decision to disband their remaining group and for some of their leadership to join the Wenatchee Pride Board. Several members of the existing Wenatchee Pride board stepped aside, and the two groups integrated into one. With a nod to the old adage--“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”--the new group of leaders sat in a room together and talked about the future. For more information on our current board members (Jillian Danley, Board President; Micah Vacatio, Vice President; Tanya Gleason, Treasurer; Eddie Chaidez, Secretary; Phil Gansereit, and ashley olson), please check out our Board Profiles page!
This exciting evolution in our local movement is as a result of the work of so many incredible people along the way. Thank you so much to all of you for the part that you’ve played in helping us to get to this moment, and for all that you will do to continue to build our movement.
A special thank you to our early supporters in 2015 and 2016, The Spectrum’s passionate mailing list, the clergy and the church leaders who stood up, Diane Heninger and the Pride 2017 organizers for building something amazing, the 2018 Pride Board for their dedication, and especially to the LGBTQ+ families, individuals, and allies from across the valley who have rallied together to raise awareness, educate, and build a strong LGBTQ+ community. A special Thank you to the YWCA of NCW for hosting the annual Hallowqueens Drag Shows and the Vagina Monologues and giving us free table space! There are so many people in the last 4 years and even beyond that that have worked so hard to get us here. ALL of OUR hard work is paying off and we are getting closer to having a formal, federally recognized, LGBTQ+ non-profit organization in our region. Believe us...you’ll be the first to know.
Please Note: Our LGBTQ+ history in the Wenatchee Valley and North Central Washington is way, way bigger than the names or organizations mentioned here. It is our desire from Wenatchee Pride to capture this history and include it on our website. If you have a passion for history or would like to share information with us for this site, please email us at PrideWenatchee@gmail.com.
We would love your help in writing our collective story!