Vashon organizers have planned a full plate of Pride Month activities on Vashon, to take place online in the coming weeks.
The events come a year after hundreds of islanders gathered to celebrate the opening of a major exhibit, “In and Out: Being LGBTQ on Vashon Island,” that bowed in June 2019, at the Vashon Heritage Museum.
Islanders can still visit the outdoor portions of the exhibit, despite the fact that the museum, located at 10105 Bank Road SW, has been closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The outdoor exhibits include a memorial garden, remembering the struggle for LGBTQ rights and those struck down by AIDS. A circular garden bed, designed by Terry Welch, graces the outdoor space, which also features an AIDS quilt by Vashon High School students who worked with Peter Serko’s AIDS Day Project.
There is also a Japanese gender garden, designed by Welch, that invites viewers to place themselves on the continuum of sexuality and gender. Ongoing LGBTQ resistance is also celebrated in the outdoor space with photographs by Dana Schuerholz.
According to Stephen Silha, a co-curator of the exhibit and also a key planner for the 2020 Pride Month festivities, the exhibit was to close on June 5, but will now most likely continue into early 2021. Under Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” re-opening plan, museums are not allowed to reopen until Phase 3.
But Elsa Croonquist, the museum’s director, said board and staff are now working on a plan for safe opening protocols to be put into place upon the eventual re-opening of the space, which might come as early as July if conditions permit.
And for now, Pride is being celebrated in a socially distant way, with a number of online community programs.
Two of these events have already taken place. On Thursday, June 11, the DOVE Project hosted a panel discussion on Zoom, featuring therapists, young adults, parents and educators discussing the topic of supporting LGBTQ island youth. And on Tuesday, June 15, the Vashon Senior Center hosted a Zoom lecture on American literature, focusing on lesbian historical figures and their legacies. The talk was given by Lillian Faderman, an internationally-known scholar of lesbian, LGBT and ethnic history and literature.
Upcoming events include an interactive panel, with an emphasis on the history of Vashon’s historically large proportion of LGBTQ residents. The panel, presented by the Queer Task Form and the Heritage Museum’s “In and Out” exhibit, will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 18, and be moderated by Stephen Silha. Panelists will include Ellen Kritzman, Stephanie Mueller, Randy Marinez and Maridee Bonadea.
The Zoom link for the lecture can be found at vashonpride.com/events/lgbtq-history.
Another online performance, “Arnaldo! Drag Chanteuse,” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 20, in a performance live-streamed from Vashon Center for the arts, accessible at vashoncenterforthearts.org. Admission will be by a suggested donation of $10.
The glitzy performance will boast Arnaldo’s trademark covers of songs by some of his most favorite divas, back by the Sweet Spot Combo.
A fixture on the Seattle cabaret scene and beyond, Arnaldo started as a soloist with the Seattle Men’s Chorus and has performed with the group in major concert halls in the US, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.
Along the way, there have been accolades from critics.
John Hoglund, “After Dark” critic, called the drag diva “the real deal in a world where prejudices and quick judgments are too often the norm.”
Pride month will conclude with a family-friendly Zoom party and virtual “parade” at 11 a.m. Sunday, June 28, hosted by drag artists Sativa Queen, Angela Visalia and Poison Waters, as well as “In and Out” curators Ellen Kriztman, Stephen Silha and island historian Bruce Haulman. Islanders are encouraged to dress up and create Pride displays in their homes and backyards and share them on Zoom.
At 12 p.m., the drag artists will host a Tea Dance, encouraging participants to dance along at home (via Zoom) to tunes spun by DJ Merlin the Girl.
For complete details on Pride activities, visit vashonpride.com.