Diversity Series In Hamilton

This is big news for the Bitterroot- and I’m proud to be part of it. Click for larger version

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Pacific NW PFLAG Conference Comes to Hamilton, MT

This Western Montana town of 5,000 people better known for its conservative religious and political beliefs than its embrace of gay people will play host to the annual Pacific Northwest Regional PFLAG (Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Conference for three days, September 21 through 23. Pride Foundation is a sponsor of this event, and regional development organizer Caitlin Copple will present during the Saturday breakout sessions.

“We are thrilled to bring PFLAG chapters from all over Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and Montana together, as well as other allied groups, in Hamilton for a fun-filled weekend that will inspire them to renew their commitment to advocating for equality and dignity for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community,” said PFLAG’s volunteer regional director and Pride Foundation board member Kathy Reim, who will travel to the conference from Skagit County, Washington.

The conference kicks off Friday, Sept. 21, at the Bitterroot River Inn (http://www.bitterrootriverinn.com/) with Dr. Robert Minor, professor emeritus of religion at University of Kansas, on how to diffuse religious arguments misused to justify discrimination of LGBTQ people.  Following his speech, there will be a hospitality room with wine and beer and other entertainment by local talent.

Saturday’s offerings begin at 9 a.m. and include workshops on how to avoid volunteer burnout, how to better engage straight allies in the movement, as well as a panel on transgender experiences and how to have a more fulfilling relationship geared toward LGBTQ couples. Lesbian icon, singer-songwriter Cris Williamson will perform a benefit concert for the Bitterroot PFLAG chapter at the Victor Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m.

Conference sessions continue Sunday morning exploring how to build more successful boards of directors and how to carry forth the hope and inspiration of the conference back to the various communities represented from across the region.

For a full schedule and registration information, visit www.pnwpflag.org. For local information on the Bitterroot Valley’s tourist offerings, visit www.pflaghamiltonbitterroot.org.  Those needing a ride to and from the Missoula airport to the conference should email John at cummings1@bresnan.net.

Founded in 1985, Pride Foundation is dedicated to inspiring a culture of generosity to connect and strengthen organizations, leaders, and students who are creating LGBTQ equality across the Northwest states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. To learn more, visit www.pridefoundation.org or email Caitlin@pridefoundation.org.

Montana Pride 2012: It’s Not Just A Party

It’s a time for determined activism and empowerment.

This year, we’ve invited every elected official and candidate from across Montana to meet their LGBT and allied constituents at Montana Pride.

We’ve made Out Legislators Diane Sands, Christine Kaufmann, Bryce Bennett and Montana Human Rights Network organizer/lobbyist Jamee Greer our Grand Marshals. And they will be sharing their stories with Montana Public Radio’s Brian Kahn in the Bozeman Public Library after speaking at the Equality Rally on the Library Front Lawn. A Rally which will feature Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex speakers and performers.

Montana Women Vote will be registering voters during the weekend.

And we have an amazing array of workshops at the MSU SUB on Saturday starting at 3pm 

PFLAG Presents: Inclusive Language: Helping families and friends avoid hoof-in-mouth disease. How to talk about/to our LGBT loved ones and A chapter can be the first ray of sunshine in small communities and be an umbrella to connect efforts in others. Presented by Kathy Reim, PFLAG Pacific Northwest Regional Director and Cesar Hernandez, PFLAG Western Field & Policy Manager

Vagina Facebook: How to friend, things to like, status updates, and blocking creepers for your lady parts. If our vaginas had a grasp on social marketing they would pick better playmates, know all the best products, keep honest medical tabs, and hide from those unwanted pests like herpes. This workshop will use the principles of Facebook to outline 20 new lessons on vulva wellness and user sexuality. Log-on and learn.   Open session for women with doctor of human sexuality and clinical sexologist, Lindsey Doe

It’s Not Your Story Until You Tell It. Author Bobbie Zenker will present a workshop on coming out and telling your story & why it is important. She will share her experiences in writing her memoir, TransMontana, followed by a brief reading. Q&A to follow.

Talking to Churches and Faith Leaders- How Do We Start? Evangelical Christian and LGBT ally Kathy Baldock will offer some guidance and understanding about creating a conversation with Christian faith leaders. She will share her experiences in changing hearts and minds about LGBT persons in churches and faith communities. She will also address the topic of creating “open and affirming” churches.

Yeah, it’s a party, but it’s also a time to be empowered.

Because together, we’re powerful.

And it’s gonna be hard to ignore us in Montana after next weekend….