It’s from Joe Jervis at Joe.My.God– it’s the ninth year he’s run it, and it’s brilliant, thought-provoking, sad- and awesome.
You may recognize some of the people involved….
Do you see yourself?
There’s only 1 week left!
Montana Pride 2012 and Wet Paint Studios are working to bring a quality film about Montana diversity to life- and we want your help. Films are expensive to make- and every contribution is important. From their Indiegogo webpage:
The LGBTQI community is coming out of the woodwork. With political gains such as the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and the Obama Administration’s affirmation of promoting equality for the LGBTQI community, more and more people are coming out and showing their true selves to the world.
And yet, in rural Montana, sometimes their only opportunity is at annually held Montana Pride. In a state of just a million people, ideas come in slowly. For some, Montana Pride, held annually in June, is what affirms themselves in the LGBTQI community, as well as the greater community.
“Outside The Lines” explores what it means to be an LGBTQI in Montana, and why pride is more than a weekend celebration in diversity. Using Montana Pride as our anchor, we plan on exploring how attitudes towards the LGBTQI community has changed in Montana, how Pride brings people together for a weekend of celebration, and how that celebration needs to carry on through everyday life.
Our filming will take place during Montana Pride, held in Bozeman once again June 15-17. We are also currently lining up interviews with prominent members of the gay community, such as leaders of PFLAG (Parents, Family, Friends, of Lesbians and Gays), representatives of our legal system, teachers, and activist college students.
Plus, every contribution over $10.00 gets a “perk”- which includes Producer credits (you have to be in for more than 10 bucks to get that). It’s an amazing opportunity- and I’ve already kicked in $50 bucks.
If they get five more donations today, I’ll kick in an extra $50.00. Come on- even $10 will get us closer to our goal!
To see how you can be a producer, click here: http://www.indiegogo.com/montanapride2012
A rerun of last year’s column…
New York Pride?
San Diego, Seattle, Vancouver, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco, Boston, Portland, Kansas City, Dallas, L.A., Denver, Philly?
Bisbee, Anchorage, Bozeman, Wichita, Boise, Flagstaff?
I know, not exactly the top of the list for most of you. Many of us actively fled rural life to get to urban safety. I get that- I was one of them. For a while, anyway. But I want you to consider going to a gay pride event in an out-of the-way place this summer.
Why? Because we need you.
LGBT people live in rural America. We work here, go to school, own property, pay taxes, raise families, attend churches, shop and donate to charity. We don’t have a lot of gay bars, LGBT sports clubs, drag shows and neighborhoods where we can hold hands with our partners. Nonetheless, we live here. We love here. We have friends and families here.
Sometimes we do it under a great deal of stress.
I work with a lot of LGBT persons who have really good reasons for living in rural America. We don’t get a lot of support. Far too often, the strongest reason to leave is to find a greater sense of community. Sometimes, that is the only reason- the driving reason, that makes them pack up the car and head to Denver or Seattle or Portland.
Creating community in a small town isn’t always easy. There are a lot of obstacles to overcome- fear, shame, stigma- all the old tapes. We don’t have a large pool of organizers, and often the same people are the ones organizing every event. Burnout is common. Sometimes we just need some encouragement.
And that’s where you come in.
The fight for LGBT Equality is not going to be won in the cities. It’s already mostly won there. It’s going to be won in small-town America, where people need to see gay people as human, normal and neighbors- not just some characters on television. It’s going to be won when the lady who runs the local Holiday Inn meets real-live lesbians and finds them to be just like any other guests. When the casual onlooker comes to the parade to see “freaks” and walks away disappointed, when he sees families and friends laughing and cheering. When a bi kid is accepted and loved instead of encouraged to “get off the fence”. When locals see their gay neighbors in the light of day, paying our own way, as deserving of love, respect and commitment as anyone else. When drag shows and AIDS charity events are just as normal and accepted as karaoke, rodeo and the county fair. When our rural and small-town legislators, see us simply as citizens with the same rights as every other constituent. When kids don’t say “gay” as an epithet of scorn and derision.
When we are seen as part of a larger community. That’s when full equality will happen.
We need your encouragement to continue the struggle for that equality. It can be pretty lonely out here, sometimes. And I’ve come to believe that, as important as the work in the cities is, those who work to improve the lives of LGBT persons in rural America are the real heroes. The drag queens in Butte or Bisby may not be as glamorous as the Key West queens, but they’re certainly just as brave- braver even. The HIV activist in Anchorage has just as many concerns as the activist in Atlanta. We want to know you have our backs when we’re working to educate legislators and local politicians and school boards and businesses. We want to know that it’s okay to stay here, even when it’s hard.
We need you.
So look up a rural Pride event this summer. Go to it. Let us know you support us. Clap at the little parade, dance in a barn, make out with a hot cowboy, cowgirl and/or farmer, encourage a teen, hug a drag queen, listen to an elder, give money to a PFLAG chapter. Just go- we need you.
Because you need us, too.
Good news- my Bilerico article has been drawing some attention to Bozeman- I’ve received several inquiries about the dates of the Montana Pride Celebration from out of state people interested in coming to support LGBTQ rights in Montana.
Is that awesome, or what?
It’s my privilege to work with some amazing people on The Pride Foundation’s team in Montana. If any of you know me personally, you know that I really believe in this organization, am a monthly donor, and I offer what I can to make this work here.
I believe it’s our last best chance for equality in Montana.
Caitlin Copple, Montana’s Regional Organizer for The Pride Foundation, has written an article about the Leadership Action Team for the State of Montana- and we’re a pretty amazing group of people if I do say so myself.
The Montana Leadership Action Team serves as Pride Foundation’s “boots on the ground” when it comes to raising money, visibility and developing local leaders across the state. Because Pride Foundation believes strongly that local people know best what is needed in their communities, all our funding decisions – from grants to scholarships to sponsorships – are made by volunteers across the state.
I am so grateful for the support, hard work, and thoughtful dedication of this team. In just nine months, they’ve helped host eight house parties, attended countless community events on Pride Foundation’s behalf, and will determine how we distribute $5,000 in sponsorship money this year. Their work is directly shaping a safer, more equal Montana and strengthening our community’s philanthropic prowess.
Read about everyone on the Action Team here. And while you’re at it- check out the rest of their website. And if you give to HRC or GLAAD or Lambda Legal or any national LGBT rights organization, I challenge you to match that donation to an organization that will keep that money right here in Montana- the Pride Foundation.
I’ve written about the importance of Rural Pride Celebrations before- but if you want to see it firsthand, or if you ever wondered what the 2011 Montana Pride Celebration was like- well wonder no more.
Wet Paint Studios beautifully chronicled the event with this amazing piece of film:
From the Wet Paint Studios’ description:
“You Are Loved” is a documentary chronicling Montana Pride- celebrating the diversity of all walks of life.
The documentary explores what it means to be an LGBTQI in Montana, a rural state of not even a million people. The response from the community in Bozeman, MT was overwhelming, and without it, this documentary would not be possible. Enjoy the show!