Thank you for celebrating the first annual Ark Valley Pride!
When your career choice involves stepping out into the unknown, there is always a certain level of anticipation, concern, and sometimes, fear. You become well-versed in possibilities from your past attempts and the more you put behind you, the more you are able to start having a better understanding of the outcome. We aren’t talking about mountain climbing or rafting, but community building. Community building is all of this, but there is one tool that isn’t always in the average toolbox; people.
As we are sure you are aware, people have all kinds of different opinions, beliefs, and on many occasions, input. Building an event that serves a purpose, while remaining conscious of each person’s needs, becomes daunting... and if the results are too far off from what the community itself needs, they’ll let you know. Believe us, they let you know!
Two years ago we began discussing the need for a celebration in the Upper Arkansas River Valley for all of the communities that make up this mountain network. Time passed, and we found underserved individuals who could not connect anywhere into this network--many of these individuals were our area’s youth. Almost all of these people identified as LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual), were of a religion not commonly or historically present in the Valley, or have found the Valley bereft of diverse cultures and beliefs.
Surveys and discussions ensued that gave us the motivation and the strength to move forward: organizing an annual event that would be as inclusive as possible, providing an outlet for some of these underserved individuals. As the numbers of supporters grew, we also found opposition in the form of Facebook discussions, emails & private messages, etc. We did our best to remain loving, inclusive, and understanding.
On the morning of June 3rd, 2017, in Alpine Park, over 300 supporters gathered to walk with us in the first annual Ark Valley Pride Parade. We walked down F Street to Riverside Park, where local nonprofits organized games, wrote letters to supporters, and took names from an additional 450 people who assembled in solidarity. Food and drinks were shared and music was enjoyed; there were statements from local community members and invited guests; participants could even bring a t-shirt to be printed with a design created specifically for the event. All of this was free, open to everyone, and accessible to every age group.
The event was a success. It was a success because we stood together in love, with a willingness to accept things that we don’t understand by discussing them or experiencing them first hand. It was also a success because of all of the love put into it. From the Ark Valley Pride committee; Shelley Schreiner, Kathy Mcquillan, Beck Ceron, Rocky Tingler, Tamar Madrigal, Shannon Nelson, Becky Rose, Leslie Henslee, Kim Ryan, Licia Iverson, Zoey Rayor, Lori Weckbaugh, and Kristen Van Norman; to the businesses and nonprofits that supported the event; The Colorado Trust, First Street Flooring on Third, Planned Parenthood, Tenderfoot Health Collective, Smoking Bones Catering, Cafe Dawn, Corvus: Clothing & Curiosities, Salida Mountain Sports, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery, Boys & Girls Clubs of Chaffee County, Sutty’s Downtown Records & Arts, Howl Mercantile & Coffee, Pinto Barn, Box of Bubbles, Mr. Beauty Skincare, Free the Monkey Consignment, Chipita Counseling Services, Hittle Landscape Architects, MO Burrito, Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa, Sweetie’s Sandwich Shop, Fat Tees, Salida Dermatology, Bead Song, The Book Haven, The Biker and the Baker, Soulcraft Brewing, the Palace Hotel, Salida Massage and Aesthetics, Riot Moms of Salida, Keeping the Peace Mediation, Rusting Ram Catering, Salida Creativity Lab, Mountain Assistant, Bella, Jefferson Farms Natural Fibers, MAI Accupuncture Clinic, Yellow Feather Photography, Kaleidoscope Toys, Family Youth Initiative, Chaffee County Democrats, PFLAG, A Little Help, NARAL, kHEN Community Radio, ONE Colorado, Social Justice Salida, Alliance Against Domestic Abuse, Pinon Real Estate Brokers Kym & Hayden Mellsop, Stage Left Theatre Company, Brandon Ramirez, Ron Ferris, Jane Whitmer, Shul in Salida, Ken Brandon, Clara Swan, Jessie Miller, Julie Hardy, Miki Hodge, Will Hodge, Cooper Hodge, Clarke Poos, Cloey Sellars, Marney Danneberg, Rebecca Poos, Joi Santa Cruz, Susanna Spaulding, Stephen King, Sir Freelancelot, Salida Parks and Rec, Terry Porter, Luz Stella Diaz, Gavin McReynolds, Organize 80461, Dan Ridenour, Susan Mayfield, A//P//J//T, Deb Tannenbaum, Esperanza Zane, Tom Manfred, Melissa McCain Stephanie Thorne, Bradfield Ramsey Group, Lawton Eddy, Joe Lyford, Laura Hendrie, Sally Mather, Jeff Donlan, Brandon Blake, Fay Golson, Walmart, Tom Heinlein, Bobby Bauer, DJ Maniac McGee, GP3 Supersport, and Out Front Magazine; Community members who spoke: County Commissioner Keith Baker, Reverend Caleb Rundell of the Salida United Methodist Church, retired Salida Presbyterian Minister Mike Orrill, Salida City Council Member Cheryl Brown-Kovacic, Denise Ackert, Salida City Council, Salida Police Department, Salida Fire Department, Nico Wilkinson, Donna Lester, Alys Bruffy, Susan Woods, Connie Buskist, Peggy Askins, Jan Olmstead, Judy Wagner, and Bill Oliver; a community that embraced the need and opened their minds to understand it; and with the love that is expressed daily in our business between Mark and I as partners, soulmates, and as spouses, both Mark and I would like to personally thank Shelley Schreiner, Becky Rose, Shannon Nelson, Leslie Henslee, Beth Grimes, Joi Santa Cruz, and Tamar Madrigal, not only for their enthusiasm, wit, and creativity, but for helping us beyond measure throughout this entire process.
To all of you who participated in the parade, from your homes watching details unfold on social media; to those who volunteered to help us and those who just did what they thought was needed; and to those of you who showed the community why we do what we do through your opposition… thank you!
With all of our hearts, thank you.
Jimmy Sellars & Mark Monroe
Photos by Yellow Feather Photography.
Are you a PfCA subscriber? Subscribe Today! Keep events and programs like this one going in our community!