We live in a progressive community where people are mostly tolerant and accepting of diversity. As such, the upcoming
Four Corners Pride Festival in Durango to celebrate gender diversity may seem irrelevant to some.
But even if it is understood that some gay people cannot "come out of the closet" for fear of personal, physical or
professional retribution, some may wonder how a big party can further the cause of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) equality.
Historically, when minority groups have come out as proud and accepting of who they are, society has followed.
Sometimes this involves rallies or festivals.
With that in mind, the Four Corners Pride Festival has been organized by The Alliance, a collaboration of several
nonprofit groups including 4cGLAD (Four Corners Alliance for Diversity), SASO (Sexual Assault Service Organization), the Four Corners Lesbian Network, San Juan College OUT!, Fort Lewis College PRISM and the Durango Chapter of PFLAG
(Parents, Friends, and Family of Lesbians and Gays).
Often the process includes reclaiming as their own negative terms or symbols imposed upon them by others. The
upside-down pink triangle, a common symbol for LGBT people, was the identifier that labeled gay prisoners in Nazi
concentration camps. The term "queer," which was once a familiar slur, is now a preferred term for some of the
younger generation. Taking ownership of these words and symbols takes away their negative power.
There is much homophobia in Native American cultures as well, but this was not always the case. Native Americans had
a long history of recognizing "two-spirit" individuals as being doubly gifted, possessing inherent understanding of
Several factors influenced the development of discrimination, but LGBT American Indians are reclaiming their
two-spirit pride in many ways, including festivals like ours.
Coming out says: We are your friends, neighbors and co-workers. You already know and like us. Now it's time to
recognize that our relationships and families matter as much as yours do.
In June of 1969, a group of patrons at the Stonewall Inn, a popular New York City gay bar, fought back against police
who had been staging frequent raids of this and other gay clubs. The group quickly became a mob of hundreds, and the
Stonewall riots continued for several days.
The events made gays and lesbians front-page news and "Stonewall" is credited as the official start of the gay-rights
movement. As a result, June is known as LGBT-pride month the world over, and Presidents Clinton and Obama both issued
proclamations officially recognizing the month as such in the United States.
Since Stonewall, decades have passed and proclamations have been signed, yet LGBT people still face numerous
challenges to overcome.
Many agree we are on the precipice of real change in our country, so being out and proud about one's sexual
orientation is more important than ever. While it is still legal in most states to fire a person based solely on
sexual orientation or gender identity, ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) has strong congressional support to
change this. The repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy is imminent. And marriage equality is quickly
becoming a reality, state by state.
Colorado is advancing change with five laws on the books that protect LGBT residents. They are: employment
nondiscrimination, housing and public accommodations, hate crimes, second-parent adoptions and designated
The Four Corners Pride Festival is an opportunity for LGBT people and straight allies alike to come together in
support of changes that will result in strengthening individual communities and our society as a whole.
It is time for our LGBT community to show its colors. It's important for the Durango area, which has a large gay
population that is largely invisible.
4cGLAD, with an estimated 350 members, decided to bring its private Pride Picnics to town for greater visibility and
attendance by gays and non-gays. But the Pride Festival may be even more important for those coming from Four Corners
communities that can be less accepting of non-heterosexual individuals.
The Four Corners Pride Festival celebrates gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit people who
proudly represent the many cultures of our region. We have speakers, booth presenters and attendees coming from Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, as well as Colorado to fully represent the Four Corners.
Join us on Saturday, June 26, to support and encourage diversity in Durango and beyond. Event details can be found at
Diane Morazán is vice chairwoman of 4cGLAD in Durango. Reach her at FourCornersLN@yahoo.com.