‘You have the right to be gay in the Tri-Cities:’ Gender Fluid Closet opens

RICHLAND, Wash. — The WSU Tri-Cities MOSAIC Center for Student Inclusion is collaborating with the Uptown Rainbow Connection, a nonprofit group, to host a Gender Fluid Closet on June 29 and 30.

They took donations from the community, which they said came in hordes. Shirts, pants, dresses, shoes, beauty supplies, bags and more; accessories and clothing items which are free to the public and open to the community.

There is one main goal:

“Serving the community in the most authentic and accessible way possible,” said Kauser Gwaduri with the WSU Tri-Cities MOSAIC Center for Student Inclusion.

The project is an opportunity for the community to explore different gendered styles and accessories in a judgment-free zone. Another goal is for people to feel comfortable in their skin. To try new things, and see what feels right for them. There’s also an addition of the clothes being free.

Free clothes to discover your identity and expression.

Gwaduri said, “We just got a donation today that said, ‘May these clothes go to someone to help them feel most like themselves. Confidence is power.’”

“We’re also trying to improve this community. We want it to be the best, most beautiful, safest place for your kids, our kids, our lives,” said Steffanie Doles, a board member for the Uptown Rainbow Connection.

This is the first time this event has been held. The organizers are hoping to make this an annual event.

All of the clothes and accessories that aren’t claimed by the end of the event on Thursday are being donated to My Friends’ Place. This is a community resource for homeless teenagers in the Tri-Cities. They provide financial literacy support, career support and encourage teenagers to continue education.

Continuing Pride year-round

The Gender Fluid Closet has been in the works for about two or three months. Because most pride events happened earlier in June, they wanted to do something to close out Pride Month. Not to conclude it, though, but to continue it along.

“It doesn’t feel like ‘closing off Pride Month.’ It feels like continuing the things that we want to be doing,” said Doles. “For the community, it’s gonna continue. We’re gonna keep being part of this community.”

Doles said that there are a lot of people in the LGBTQ+ community that might not be out yet. Despite this, everyone needs support.

“You don’t know how many people around you are part of this community, contributing and helping and being a part of your life on a regular basis,” said Doles.

Gwaduri says that her favorite phrase comes from Luis Madrigal, the President of the Uptown Rainbow Connection:

“You have the right to be gay in the Tri-Cities.”

READ: Tri-Cities Pride 2022: Rolling list of events celebrating the LGBTQ+ community

READ: Recognizing PRIDE Month in Tri-Cities

Find the Uptown Rainbow Connection on Facebook and Instagram for updates and events.