BY KATIE WOODZICK
Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
August 7, 2014
On May 15, Kathryn Lynn Morgen was filling out an online survey. She voted for Whidbey Island as her favorite island in North America and then clicked on the “share this on Facebook” button. She added two words to her post: Island Pride!
These two words would be the inspiration for Whidbey Island’s First Pride Parade. Kathryn did her research and found, to her surprise, that there was not already a parade on island celebrating the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning community and their allies. Exhilarated, she went to work finding a date and applying for the necessary permits.
But could she pull it off in less than three months?
Never underestimate what a small, dedicated group of artists can create. Kathryn quickly enlisted the help of her then fiancé, now husband, Michael Morgen and Bonnie Stinson.
All three of the event organizers are affiliated with local arts organizations. Kathryn works with Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, Michael works with Whidbey Children’s Theatre and can be seen under the Island Shakespeare Festival Tent this summer, and Stinson works with Hedgebrook.
The parade will be a celebration of self-expression, Kathryn explained.
“It’s not just gay or straight, male or female,” she said. “We are creating new pronouns. We are experiencing a massive shift in consciousness about the way we express our identities and the Queer Pride Parade is here to honor that.”
The parade will start at the top of Cascade Avenue in Langley at 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 10 and loop through downtown. Grand Marshal for this event is Colonel Grethe Cammermeyer, who was a driving force in the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Attendees can expect a rich landscape of pageantry—from motorcycles to musicians, arts organizations with floats as well as individuals marching in the parade.
“There is a rich history of queer identity intersecting with the arts,” Stinson said. “For so long, because of societal expectations, the queer community used underground zines, coded music, visual art and salon-style performance spaces to tell their stories when the mainstream stage wasn’t available to them. We are especially excited to see who comes out of the woodwork here on Whidbey from within the arts community. We have so many talented artists and arts organizations of all stripes here, and the beautiful expression of self is something that we can all stand behind.”
The community is not only encouraged to attend, but also to participate. Pre-registration is available on the parade’s website and registration will also be available the day of the event starting at noon.
Stinson enthusiastically detailed all the actions that community members can take to support the parade:
“You can attend the parade and clap for the participants! You can buy a t-shirt and wear it proudly (all proceeds go back into the event). You can tell your various communities (churches, music groups, reading groups, small businesses, neighborhoods) about this event and why it’s personally important to you, and organize a group to walk in the parade. You can volunteer to help out on parade day. You can seek out the stories and art of queer people and share them with your communities!
For more information on the Queer Pride Parade on Whidbey Island, please visit http://www.queerparade.com/.
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Image at top: Kathryn Lynn Morgen (photo by Bonnie Stinson)
Katie Woodzick works at Hedgebrook as an External Relations Manager. She is also an actor and director who can be seen on local stages. She is excited to play Little Red Riding Hood in “Into the Woods,” opening October 10 at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.
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