Of the many festivities that occur on Orcas Island as Summer begins to take hold, Orcas Pride speaks to a fundamental reality of living on an island – a need for community. Finding genuine connection can be difficult enough under normal circumstances, but on a small rock in the middle of the Salish Sea, it can sometimes feel impossible. The deep desire within us all to be seen and supported is at the very heart of Orcas Pride.
Pride month has not always been the worldwide celebration it is today. Pride celebrations were born out of a rebellion against invasive and discriminatory police practices that destroyed the lives of many people from the LGBTQ+ community. The Stonewall Riots of 1969 in the West Village of New York City were a watershed moment for the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement. In response to a violent police raid, bar patrons and transgender leaders, including Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, shouted to onlookers to act. Those calls for action ignited riots involving thousands of people over five days, the impact of which still reverberates today. Their courage sparked a movement that shaped the course of rights for LGBTQ+ people. Given its origins, Pride can be understood as not just a celebration, but as a chance to honor the victims and applaud the heroes that took the first steps toward equality. In 1970, on the one year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the very first Gay Pride parade was held in New York City, followed by similar gay pride celebrations in cities like San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles that same year.
Orcas Pride started in June of 2019 and this year’s event is the biggest yet beginning Friday June 16 and continuing through the weekend.
From Orcas Pride:
Happy Pride, beauties! It’s our time to shine!
For the last five years, Orcas Pride has used touchpoints with our community as opportunities for listening, learning and growing. It is from these conversations that Orcas Pride strives to be advocates for safety, access and equity. In the spirit of mutual aid, intersectionality and community – and with a little inspiration from a children’s book – the Pride 2023 theme was born: Sharing Gifts.
Social movements teach us about our present conditions and how we might choose to shape our future. “Whether or not they succeed, there is merit and power in a social movement’s visions because these alternative visions and dreams inspire new generations to continue to struggle for change,” Aja Monet says in her foreword to Robin D.G. Kelley’s Freedom Dreams. It is our hope that through the presence of Pride we can continue to transfigure ourselves toward love and hope. May we always be moving people toward power.
Here’s the skinny on this year’s events:
Orcas Pride is Friday, June 16 at the Orcas Island Grange. All day!
Day Fest kicks off from noon to 4 PM. There will be free massages and acupuncture with practitioners from the Healing Arts Center, free haircuts with Sommer the Barberess, free wood fired pizza, field games, a bouncy castle, dance performances by the Junior Dance Collective, photo booths, free face painting, a clothing swap, a smattering of workshops including one by Joshua Starr concerning consent and gender identity, a makeup workshop with Sofia Poe, tarot by donation, and more. This year there will be a small silent auction fundraiser for Orcas Pride with some incredible gifts from island businesses.
At 5 PM, join us at one long table for a family potluck at the Grange. With a tablescape by Smorgasbord, join a truly intimate moment together before transitioning to party mode.
Night Fest is MANIFOLD. At 6:30PM, doors open in the Grange theater for the 21+ Sharon is Karen Drag Show (Night One, SOLD OUT). Did we mention Sanjaya is back?! However, even if you don’t have tickets, this is the night to BE AT THE FESTIVAL! There will be drinks served by The Barnacle, late night dancing to DJ Care, Bruce Pavitt and DJ Rowan Ruthless, a roaring fire, Jello wrestling with Courtney Fletcher, and more. We will move dancing inside as the timeline and weather shifts.
Since Night One of the Drag Show sold out so fast, we added a second, ALL AGES show on Saturday, June 17. Doors at 6:30, show at 7:30 PM.
And that’s not all. Drag Brunch is going down at Gerties on Sunday, June 18. Check Gertie’s website for details!
And it wouldn’t be an Orcas Pride event without a handful of surprises. That’s all there is to that.
Orcas Pride is humbly seeking volunteers! If you’d like to help this year, please fill out this volunteer form and Orcas Pride will contact you imminently.