Mayor Barbara Clark made a proclamation marking June 2019 as Walla Walla’s first LGBTQ Pride Month during Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

The proclamation was received by Everett Maroon, a Walla Walla resident. Gathered about him and filling up the chamber were members of Walla Walla’s LGBTQ community and their allies.

Brandon Jones, a member of OutLoud News, emphasized the importance of this month in an email to the Union-Bulletin.

This is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, an important time of remembrance for members of the LGBTQ community, he said.

“Two days after the historic riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village, LGBTQ people and their allies came together to forge a more just union,” Jones said. “Fifty years later, that struggle continues, in places like Walla Walla, Washington.”

To mark this milestone in history and honor the grass roots organizations in the Walla Walla Valley, the LGBTQ Pride Steering Committee formally requested that the city issue this proclamation.

Wednesday also marked three years since the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, Fla.

“It is recorded as one of the … deadliest days in American LGBTQ history — as 49 people lost their lives in an act of hate,” Jones said.

This is the statement released by OutLoud News: “By issuing this historic proclamation, Mayor Clark has agreed to honor the contributions that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people have made to the city of Walla Walla. ... This proclamation sends a clear message to every LGBTQ member of our community, that it’s OK to live openly and honestly outside of the shadows. From gay-owned businesses downtown, to trans people leading the way to combat the opioid epidemic, to queer students pushing back against religious bigotry on college campuses, we see the legacy of Stonewall forging a more perfect union, right here in the Walla Walla Valley.”

Maroon, who received the proclamation, spoke to the crowd in City Council chambers. In his speech, he thanked the city’s leaders, reflected on the atrocities and discrimination inflicted upon the LGBTQ community, and emphasized the importance of this proclamation.

“This proclamation today means more than you know,” Maroon said. “It means that Walla Walla respects and honors its LGBTQ community members. That we are, in fact, a community that bridges differences and supports our diversity, in making our city a fairer and more just place to live.”

Following the presentation, members of the Walla Walla community assembled near the statue of Piupiumaksmaks (Chief Yellow Bird). He was murdered during a truce while advocating for his people. There, beneath the statue, a vigil was held for all those lost in the fight for a more accepting world. Members of the community read off the 49 names of the people lost in the Pulse Nightclub massacre.

“We will stand in remembrance of those who we have lost, in the pursuit of a more just and fair society,” Jones said.

Alasdair Padman can be reached at alasdairpadman@wwub.com.

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