EQuAL, Q*Fam and Kittitas Pride kick off Pride month celebrations


International day against homo/bi/transphobia poster. Image courtesy of Jess Eavenson, Q*Fam

Beau Sansom, Staff Reporter

“Pride means a bunch of different things to a bunch of different people,” Equality through Queers and Allies (EQuAl) Vice President Jessica Berkey (she/he) said. “Pride to me is being happy with who I am and celebrating my expression of myself in the way that I am free to do that, and celebrating all the pain and work that the people who came before me put in so I could be myself.”

EQuAl and Kittitas Pride are preparing for Pride week, which is from May 29 to June 2 on CWU’s campus and the first annual Pride parade in Ellensburg history respectively, according to Kittitas Pride Board President Keelin Pattillo (she/they) and eventbrite

“I think [Kittitas Pride Parade] is really amazing,” Berkey said. “I think it’s good for queer people in Ellensburg to be able to have that sort of event go on… it’s not the hugest town, but it’s good to have events like that where you can really feel surrounded by a bunch of people who are like you.”

According to eventbrite and Pattillo, the parade will begin at CWU Lind Hall at 11 a.m. on June 3 and make its way through the downtown area before ending at 1 p.m.

Before the parade, CWU and Q*Fam (a support group for LGBTQ+ students) will be hosting various Pride related events in May, including:

  • Operating a table on the SURC West Patio for the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on May 17 from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
  • Harvey Milk Day in the SURC corridor where students can visit the Q*Fam table to learn about California’s first openly gay public official while enjoying milk and cookies on May 22 from 5-6:30 p.m.
  • Pansexual/Panromantic Visibility Day, where students can visit Black Hall 101 to discuss topics on pansexual and panromantic identity with free lunch on May 24 from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
  • EQuAL will also be hosting an amateur drag show on the SURC center patio west on May 29. Enjoy the free show from 1-2 p.m. followed by a professional drag show in the SURC Ballroom at 8:00 p.m.
  • EQuAL will host decoration making for the CWU student float that will be in the parade on May 30 and June 1 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. taking place at campus activities in the SURC 274
  • Lavender Graduation will take place at Sue Lombard Hall June 2 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.. Lavender Graduation is a closed event, but there will be an afterparty immediately after open to all

“We really want to get CWU involved,” Pattillo said. “[We] really want to capture the student body and get [them] involved because they are such a huge part of this community…we’ve got some different folks signed up to be part of the parade, but we’re really hoping the student body can show up and be spectators and cheer us on.”

According to Berkey, she had a positive experience at past events held at CWU, noting how he typically kept to herself and that she was able to make friends at these events.

Q*Fam May event calendar. Image courtesy of Jess Eavenson, Q*Fam

“At the beginning of the year, I was going out to a lot of events and meeting new people, there were a lot of people at the drag show…that made me happy, not everyone there could have been queer but they still found value and excitement in it,” Berkey said.

While progress has been made over the years, Berkey said that there is still work to be done. According to Berkey, the queer community on campus can be considered to be somewhat isolated.

“A lot of the queer community here is sort of in a bubble,” Berkey said. “Having spaces for queer people is important, but if we want it to be more of an overall thing instead of incredibly building these bubbles, we need to branch out more and make spaces for queer and [cisgendered heterosexual] people to interact with each other and be supported by each other.”

A specific area of improvement called out by Berkey was in regard to the CWU commencement website not having an option to change which name would be read for graduates. (See “Transgender students face uncertainty over whether preferred names will be allowed for commencement”) 

“We need to call out bad things when we see it,” Berkey said. “Like on the commencement website where you couldn’t change your name from your birth name, which for some people is their dead-name [the name an individual used prior to transitioning that they no longer go by]…that’s pretty messed up, you don’t want someone reading your dead-name out-loud during graduation.”

Pattillo also said they would love to see further progress to be made in the community through increased support from the community and expansion of queer and SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) owned and operated businesses in the valley. Patillo said they advocate for businesses, individuals and city government to get involved and support the LGBTQ+ community outside of Pride month.

“One of the trains of thought is that there is a Pride bandwagon to jump on,” Pattillo said. “While that is all well and good, we really do want the support outside of June.”