Taking pride in our ‘gay little rock’

Just what does it mean to be proud? And why celebrate it?

The Beachcomber is proud to celebrate Vashon’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

Islanders packed Vashon Highway on Friday, June 7, to do just that, as a crowd young and old celebrated at a pride street dance next to the Vashon Theatre.

And what a place to celebrate our queer neighbors Vashon is: Data in both the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census suggests that Vashon had the largest per capita concentration of gay and lesbian residents in Washington State during that period. Data from the 2020 census is likely to reflect a similar concentration.

That’s why we are proud to be, as drag queen Sativa the Queen put it to The Beachcomber on Friday, “one of the gayest little rocks in all the Pacific Northwest.”

The month of June is celebrated each year as Pride Month, which began to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City.

But just what does it mean to be proud? And why celebrate it?

One definition of pride is a feeling of petty self-satisfaction over one’s belongings, skills or importance. But we know that this definition is not what people mean when they celebrate Pride Month.

We believe that Pride Month is about the other, more important kind of pride: one’s sense of dignity, self-respect, and love. It is about claiming space, defending your rights, and telling the world that it will never have permission to violate or belittle you.

This kind of pride is the opposite of selfish pride, or the biblical sin of pride.

It is inherently communal, not individual. It seeks out and soothes the souls of those who would be ostracized.

It is a force that reckons with injustice, not a force that pulls up the ladder after we’ve gotten our own freedoms.

And it celebrates and promotes the infinite, mysterious forms that humanity takes, not the experience of just one kind of person.

That’s what it means, to us, at least, to be proud. And the reason we celebrate it is right in front of our eyes: The joy of Vashon’s LGBTQ community living their lives to the fullest, without leaving any part of their identity on the table.

That’s something to take pride in.

Welcoming spaces don’t happen on their own. They must be cultivated and protected. For that reason, we thank organizations such as DOVE, Open Space, the Senior Center and our King County Library for putting time and resources into offering public events for islanders to represent their identities without fear of reprisal or hate.

We also graciously thank every islander who, in their own way, helps make the island a more welcoming, loving place — and one of the gayest little rocks in the Pacific Northwest.