Celebrating Beckley Pride

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – For Beckley Pride president Christina Baisden, Pride Month means celebrating human rights and diversity within the community — extending love and appreciation to those who don’t normally get it.

“Educating people on things like sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, what gender actually is,” Baisden said. “And that it’s not the same thing as your biological sex. Free workshops that we offer annually have made a huge difference in combating that stigma of being part of the LGBTQ community.”

In 2019, the Beckley non-discrimination ordinance was passed and Beckley Pride was born of that. It’s helped with progress and more acceptance. This is not a partisan issue, she says Some Democrats and Republicans embrace the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, there was a lot of this type of stigma, especially in the primary election.

“All of these candidates tripping over themselves to see who could be more transphobic. And they have this perception that those ideologies are popular. But what we saw in the polls, their actual public popularity dropped. And there’s like a whole community out here that’s willing to still fight for our young folks to make it better for them. That’s the legacy we hope to leave as an organization and a community.”

The Beckley Pride president said her vision is to ‘live and let live’ without discrimination.

She says housing and employment discrimination are not legal. More protections are needed on a state and federal level. West Virginia has no hate crime laws and one must rely on the federal government for that.

“Our hope is that we can just be out in public spaces and we won’t need safe spaces anymore, that we won’t have to quote-unquote, come out anymore, that we can just love who we want to love,” she said.

According to Baisden, there’s an LGBTQ community uprising happening — they are no longer going to be doormats and ad campaign targets.

“We are human beings, and the dehumanization of our community is rampant here, and we are trying so hard to change that,” said the Beckley Pride president.

Another step in that direction is celebrating Beckley Pride’s fifth birthday bash on Saturday, June 8, from 12 to 4 pm at the Intermodal Gateway.

“Open public event to anyone who values and appreciates diversity,” Baisden said, adding there’s also the VIP 21 plus After Pride parties, at Sir Walters — two different tickets available on Eventbrite.

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