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Kitsap's got plenty of Pride
This past weekend's Kitsap Pride Celebration at Evergreen Park in downtown Bremerton brought out about 1,500 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) folks and their supporters.
Tyler Lane, a Navy Corpsman at Naval Hospital Bremerton and member of OutServe, an association of actively serving LGBT military personnel, was one of many attendees celebrating the recent repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."
"I just want to thank all the veterans and others that came before us because, for me, being gay in the Navy hasn't been that big of an issue, but for people before me it was kind of an issue," Lane said. "They had to live a double life. So, thank you for them. For them, their purpose was their struggle so they were able to achieve that."
Michael Goodnow who, along with Marci Mathis, is a longtime Kitsap Pride organizer, also stressed the importance of achieving marriage equality in Washington state with the passage of Referendum 74.
Bremerton City Councilwoman Leslie Daugs, who has attended several Kitsap Pride events over the years and was sporting a pink Referendum 74 t-shirt Sunday, also hopes to see marriage equality.
"Nobody picked my spouse, so why should I pick theirs?" she asked rhetorically.
Kitsap Pride started about 15 years ago at Scenic Beach State Park in Seabeck and was a low-key, mostly off-the-radar event. Then, in 2005, the annual event took up residence at Evergreen Park.
In a sign of just how far things have come in such a short amount of time, this year's event featured booths with local businesses, a national chain store, various church groups, human rights groups and others.
The park bustled with people from all walks of life, age groups and sexual persuasions and orientations. Local elected leaders and politicos seeking office could seen in just about any direction you looked. Bremerton's mayor, city councilors from Bremerton and Port Orchard, state and local judge candidates and others took in the sunny weather and warm atmosphere.
"On behalf of the board of commissioners, I think it's a fantastic opportunity for our community to come together and display our pride —— in ourselves, in our community and in Kitsap County," said Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder. "Whether today is your first ever Pride Celebration or your 30th, it doesn't matter, because we're here, we're out, we're proud and that's what really matters. So, thank you so much for being a part of it."
For Susan Golightly, this year's Kitsap Pride was a homecoming. The 69-year-old transgender woman, who was born in Bremerton and lived here from 1943 to about 1945, strolled among the crowds underneath a lampshade hoisted above her backpack with hand-written lettering that read, "Ask A Tranny Anything, There Are No Dumb Questions."
She said that she has been transgender all her life.
"There are even pictures of me at 3 and 4 years old dressed as a girl," she said
Golightly has lived in the Seattle area for about a month after moving to the Northwest from New Mexico. She said that she opened herself up to answer any question from anyone for the first time during Seattle Pride.
"The idea is to make transgender people accessible so that it's not mysterious or they're not so 'other,' " she said. "People can discover we're just like everybody else."