Yakima Pride installs rainbow crosswalks to increase visibility for LGBTQ+ community

Plus, a list of Pride month events and fundraisers for nonprofits supporting the LGBTQ+ community

YAKIMA, Wash. — After more than two years of planning and waiting, Yakima Pride was able to install rainbow crosswalks this week at the intersection of Naches Avenue and Staff Sergeant Pendleton Way.

Pride officials said they hope the permanent fixtures will help increase visibility for the LGBTQ+ community and add another element to the city’s historic art district.

“It’s a beacon of hope for our community,” Yakima Pride secretary Kaimu Peneku said. “A lot of people, when they see it, they just can’t wait to dance across it, so it brings a lot of joy and happiness to people’s hearts.”

Yakima Rainbow Crosswalks

Lori Thomas and Jody Paterno have been together for almost 23 years and stopped to take a selfie Tuesday at the rainbow crosswalks.

That’s true for couple Lori Thomas and Jody Paterno, who stopped by the rainbow crosswalks Tuesday while on the way to meet their friends for lunch during a visit to Yakima.

“I’m excited to see a town like Yakima show a little bit of spirit as well, because I’m not used to seeing a lot of that over here,” Thomas said.

Paterno and Thomas met in college and have been together for almost 23 years. Both said they loved the new addition and are happy about the message it sends to people in the LGBTQ+ community.

“Everyone should have their own life and be able to be happy and be supported by everyone around them,” Paterno said.

Yakima Pride vice president Joshua Hastings said representation has increased significantly over the past few years, but it’s important for everyone to remember that LGBTQ+ people have always been in the Yakima Valley.

“We didn’t just get off the bus from some other city, you know?” Hastings said. “We are generations of generations of LGBTQ people.”

City of Yakima will not put up Pride flag at city hall this year, citing recent Supreme Court decision

The City of Yakima has put up a rainbow flag outside city hall to celebrate Pride month for the past two years, but will not be doing so this year in light of a recent decision from the Supreme Court regarding city flag policies.

On May 2, the Supreme Court ruled that the City of Boston violated a conservative activist’s rights to free speech when they denied his request to put up a Christian flag outside city hall.

City of Yakima spokesperson Randy Beehler said that decision was brought up at a council meeting on May 10 and led to a proposal to change the city’s policy to not allow guest flags. 

Beehler said the discussion was timely, as they received two requests in May to fly flags at city hall in June. He said one request was from Yakima Pride, asking for them to put up the rainbow flag in honor of Pride month.

The other request, Beehler said, was from a local group called Yakima Valley Alliance that wanted to put up the same Christian flag that was at issue in the recent Supreme Court case.

“The city could face litigation if it chose one flag over another,” Beehler said.

Beehler said council members plan to take a vote Tuesday night on potential changes to its official guest flag policy.

At the same meeting, the council is scheduled to make its annual proclamation designating June as “Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit and Intersex Pride Month.” In part, the proclamation reads:

“The City of Yakima recognizes the work of local advocates and organizations such as Yakima Pride and The Space, Yakima Neighborhood Health and others who work to promote the well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as all those affected by discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.”

Local breweries supporting nonprofits aimed at helping LGBTQ+ community

Yakima Pride has been receiving support and encouragement from local businesses, including Bale Breaker Brewing Company, which held a community pint night Tuesday to celebrate a new brew created specifically for Pride month.

“Bail Breaker is releasing the Rainbowland IPA and $1 from every pint goes to Yakima Pride to support our programming,” Hastings said.

Yakima Pride will also be receiving $1 per pint of the “Loud and Obnoxious” Hazy IPA, a brew created in collaboration with Yakima Chief Hops and Varietal Beer Company in celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.

“The beer will be released prior to Yakima Pride Festival & Parade on June 18th, and we can’t wait to raise a pint of “Loud & Obnoxious” with our fellow community members and teammates in recognition of LGBTQ+ voices worldwide and here locally,” Yakima Chief Hops officials said in a social media post.

Hop Capital Brewery has also released a kiwi mango blonde ale called “Gayish” beer, brewed for the fifth anniversary of the Gayish podcast, which is a Seattle-based “gay podcast about stereotypes that bridges the gap between sexuality and actuality,” according to its website.

Want to celebrate Pride month? Here’s what’s going on in Yakima County

After two years of skipped celebrations due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Yakima Pride Festival and Parade is back on Saturday, June 18  and will feature live music, drag performances and more.

The parade is set to begin at 10 a.m. at South 16th Avenue and West Yakima Avenue and will end at East Yakima Avenue and Naches Avenue shortly before the festival starts.

The festival portion of the event will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. along North Naches Avenue between East Yakima Avenue and East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The main stage will be set up on Pendleton Way near The Seasons Performance Hall.

While the Yakima Pride Festival and Parade isn’t until next weekend, the celebration continues all month long with:

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