Mayor Jenny Durkan on the importance of Pride and honoring our community leaders.
by Mayor Jenny Durkan
June 26, 2018
Decades ago, I would have never imagined that hundreds of thousands would be gathered here in Seattle to celebrate Pride.
I came to this year’s Mayoral Pride Awards – where I had the honor of recognizing true LGBTQ leaders in our community – on the heels of a truly heartbreaking experience on the U.S.-Mexico border advocating for migrant children who had been separated from their families. Many of my fellow mayors from across our country joined me as we gathered together at a makeshift facility where children had been separated from their mothers.
I was proud to be down there representing Seattle in this struggle.
I love our city – it is one of the most innovative cities in the country. And one of the things that makes our city so innovative is its rich diversity. We not only embrace our diversity, we are better because of it.
That’s what we celebrate this month. Decades ago, we used to get together and talk about what we were marching for. Back then it was just a small parade on Broadway. There were so many things we were marching for. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, we marched for our friends who died or were dying of AIDS; we marched for basic civil rights, in healthcare and at work, where we ate, shopped, and did our business; then we marched for family and marriage rights.
And now, we march for everyone’s rights.
It’s hard not to think about the disconnect between the celebration we’re having this weekend, and the heartbreak we’re seeing at the border.
But our community – our solidarity – has often been born in grief. It was born in challenging times – in being told we were others and not welcome; in being told that our relationships violated the law.
Our fight for equality is everyone’s fight – it includes our transgender brothers and sisters serving their country whose rights can be taken away with a tweet by our President. And it includes immigrants separated from their children wondering if they will ever hold their children again. It includes the struggles of LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness, or the many who live in states with no protections.
We stand together against injustice everywhere. And though this weekend though we may carry a heavy heart, we must also celebrate, as we have celebrated through grief in the past.
Congratulations to this year’s Pride Award Winners – thank you for your leadership in the progress we’ve made, and the victories still to come.
2018 Established Leaders Pride Award Winners:
Louise Chernin – Louise is the President & CEO of Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA), the largest LGBTQ and allied chamber of commerce in North America. Her dedication and commitment to the LGBTQ community are widely recognized. She received the Leadership Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and has also been named one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s Women of Influence. The Seattle Storm honored Chernin with its 2013 Inspiring Women Award, and in January 2015, the University of Washington Women’s Center presented her with the Women of Courage Award. Chernin is also the Chair of the Seattle Colleges Board of Trustees.
Monisha Harrell – Monisha has worked on a number of political campaigns across King and Snohomish Counties. Monisha has served as a board fellow for Lifelong AIDS Alliance, and currently serves on the boards for the Institute for a Democratic Future, the 21st Legislative District Democrats, and as board chair for Equal Rights Washington. She was also a leader on Washington Won’t Discriminate, the campaign which successfully defeated I-1552, an initiative that would have overridden state and local protections against gender-identity discrimination in public facilities.
Charlene Strong – Charlene’s human rights work began with the Pet Project, which for more than 20 years has provided pet care support for low-income pet owners with HIV/AIDS. In 2006, she was barred from entering her partner’s hospital room, she became a tireless advocate of marriage and same-sex equality. Her work for this issue brought her to speak before the Washington State legislature. Her testimony helped pass landmark domestic partnership legislation in the state of Washington. She served on the Washington State Human Rights Commission from 2009-2017, including a stint as Commissioner Chair.
The 2018 Emerging Leaders Pride Award winners are:
Tristen Pamphlet-Gardner – Tristen has been a strong advocate for Queer Trans People of Color (QTPOC) in Seattle, working to create spaces for LGBTQ+ people of color to come together for support, fellowship, and community. He has founded both a social group of nearly 500 Black LGBTQ professionals in Seattle, and Seattle Pride of Color, which aims to showcase QTPOC events happening in the Seattle area. He currently works at GSBA as a development coordinator.
Beto Yarce – Beto is the Executive Director of Ventures, a nonprofit that empowers individuals with limited resources and unlimited potential improve their lives through small business ownership. He also works with LGBTQ communities to advocate for equity in education, human rights, politics, business opportunities, and philanthropy.
The 2018 Outstanding Leader Pride Award winner is:
Aleksa Manila – Aleksa is a celebrated and respected drag personality in Seattle. Originally from Manila, Philippines, Aleksa is not only an incredible performer, but the founder of Pride ASIA, which seeks to celebrate, empower, and nurture the multicultural diversity of the LGBTQ communities through the Asian Pacific Islander lens. When not in face, Aleksa educates the community and counsels clients about the harms of crystal methamphetamine with Project NEON, a program of Seattle Counseling Service (SCS). For many years, he tested for and counseled about HIV & STDs with Public Health – Seattle & King County. Currently, he is Program Coordinator and Addictions Services Program Supervisor at SCS, where he has worked for over ten years.