First Summit Pride march brings love, laughter and tears for LGBTQ community

Jonathan Kaplan, center, of Frisco, waves a small Pride flag while participating in the Pride march held on Main Street in Frisco on Sunday, June 27, 2021.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography

Members and allies of Summit County’s LGBTQ community gathered to share their love and support at the county’s first Pride march Sunday, June 27.

People adorned with every color of the rainbow marched down Main Street in Frisco as others cheered from the sidewalks. Following the march, participants gathered at the Frisco Historic Park & Museum to speak about what the event meant to them.

“The response I’ve gotten from you guys, our community, has been amazing,” said Emily Carisch, a senior at Summit High School who planned the event. “Summit County is such an open and loving place, and I’ve been able to see that whenever small businesses ask me to put up more flyers or people contact me… to ask if they can help out.”

Carisch said she was excited to see the turnout, which she estimated between 200 and 300 people. She said this event was a huge deal for her, as she only came out to her family a few days ago.

Buzzy Buswold, who identifies as a lesbian, said it meant everything to her to be able to attend a Pride march in Summit County. She has lived in the county for 32 years and has always gone to Denver to celebrate.

“I just never thought we’d have this,” Buswold said. “To see all these young people out here, I just turned 64 on (June 21), and I never thought I would see this here in Summit County. I’m just really emotional today.”

Doug Robinson of Frisco waves a Pride flag while participating in the Pride march held on Main Street in Frisco on Sunday, June 27, 2021.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography

Anna Vaine, who identifies as pansexual, spoke about how some people in the LGBTQ community may be seen as more palatable for others in Summit County. She feels she is somewhat “easy to handle” because she is white, attracted to men and uses the pronouns associated with the gender she was assigned at birth.

Vaine said she feels Summit County is full of white moderates, who are all for equal rights as long as it doesn’t impact them.

“Summit County is a place full of people who support minorities as long as they are quiet and don’t get in the way,” Vaine said. “… It seems hypocritical of us to have all of these marches, protests and conversations about the corrupted systems in our country and do nothing to critique those systems in our own community.”

She said it’s important for the community to reflect on its own activism and acknowledge that while Pride is a celebration today, it started as a protest.

“It is time for us to stop making our activism palatable for the moderates so that we can receive their conditional support,” Vaine said. “… Let’s start making our activism loud, in your face and hard to swallow, because that is the only way we will accomplish any of the things we want.”

Edwin Coleman said he views Pride as a journey because everyone in the queer community has gone through hardships to get to where they are today.

Edwin Coleman of Silverthorne speaks at the Frisco Historic Park & Museum after marching down Main Street during the Pride march in Frisco on Sunday, June 27, 2021.
Photo by Jason Connolly/ Jason Connolly Photography

“I think a lot of us have experienced what it’s like to live life in the closet, to live life in a state of fear, to lack community, and I think that each of us is on a journey to unlearn all of the toxic, homophobic, heteronormative ideologies that create the self loathing and all of the challenges with mental and emotional health that our community is going through,” Coleman said. “I think that for a lot of us we start there, but we end up in a much more beautiful place that is filled with pride.”

He said nobody’s journey to pride will look the same, but it’s important for the community to be supportive regardless of where one is on that journey. He said allies need to realize it takes bravery and courage for members of the queer community to live an authentic, open life.

“Every person that you see out here who is living the truth of their queer identity has had to navigate some very challenging obstacles as a result of living in a heteronormative, cis-dominant world,” Coleman said.

Haley Jacks, a teacher at Summit High School, also spoke at the event. She said she grew up being told that she would not have a home to return to if she ever “decided” she was gay.

Jacks came out as pansexual last year, and while she said it made some relationships more difficult, others only grew stronger. She mentioned a friend who told her that nobody has ever regretted their decision to come out, which is something she believes is true.

“I have never been happier than I have been being 110% who I am,” Jacks said.

A marcher wears Pride colored socks during the Pride march in Frisco on Sunday, June 27, 2021.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography

Lesley Mumford, executive director of Summit Advocates for Victims of Assault, spoke about her journey as a transgender woman. She said she identifies as queer as an act of defiance, and that identifying as trans can be dangerous even within the LGBTQ community.

Mumford said only 45% of trans women have reported having a full-time job in the past year, 46% report being verbally harassed within the past year and 54% will or have already experienced violence from an intimate partner.

She said her transition gained a lot of notoriety, which, in retrospect, she believes is because she defied the odds. She said she’s still fighting a system that actively seeks to marginalize her, noting that this year there were more than 100 pieces of legislation proposed in more than 33 states to ban public accommodations to individuals who are trans.

“Statistically speaking, society saw me as a failure, wanted me to fail, and I didn’t do that,” Mumford said.

Carisch said she is already excited for another Pride event next year, and she hopes to go even bigger with events throughout the weekend.

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