For Jay Chavez, coming out as gay was scary.
He was a teenager in small, conservative town in the Columbia Basin, and he didn’t know if he’d be supported or spurned.
“It was a tough time for me. I didn’t know what it would be like,” he said.
But he found allies and got through it. And now he’s dedicated to creating safe, supportive places and activities for others in the LGBTQ community.
This week, he’s helping put together a series of Pride Festival events in the Tri-Cities. They range from a skate night at Rollarena to a march and celebration at John Dam Plaza.
Chavez said progress has been made in advancing LGBTQ rights, pointing to legalization of same-sex marriage as an example. But, there’s still plenty more to do, he said.
“When we stand together, we’re stronger,” he said.
Carly Coburn, another Pride organizer, said she hopes people feel support and inclusion at the events.
The festival’s theme is, “It’s just love.”
“Sometimes people try to imply or say that LGBTQ love isn’t the same,” Coburn said. But, “the love that we feel for one another — it’s all just love.”
Here’s a look at local Pride events:
▪ Wednesday: All-ages drag show, 9 p.m. Out and About, 327 W. Lewis St., Pasco. Cover is $5.
▪ Thursday: Art hacks event, 6 to 9 p.m., Confluent Space Tri-Cities, 285 Williams Blvd., Richland. Free and appropriate for ages 15 and older. Participants will make pride flags, signs and the like.
▪ Thursday: Trivia night, 7 p.m., Out and About in Pasco. Teams should register by 6:30 p.m. The theme is “The Sex Ed Do-Over.” Free with donations accepted. The event is followed by Out and About’s annual Pride Pink Party. Trivia and the party are for people 21 and older.
▪ Saturday: Gay Skate, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Rollarena Skating Center, 849 Stevens Drive, Richland. All ages. Cost is $5.
▪ Saturday: Celebrate Pride 2017 party, 8 p.m., Out and About in Pasco. The party is hosted by Vida Amoré and Tatiana Rexia and features James Majesty and Adrienne Alexander. Mr. Gay Washington will serve as guest bartender. Cover is $10. The event is for people 21 and older.
▪ Sunday: Pride march and festival. The march starts at 1:30 p.m. at John Dam Plaza in Richland. The festival runs from 2 to 6 p.m. at the plaza and includes live entertainment, food, games and more.
▪ Sunday: Pride After Dark party, 9 p.m., Out and About in Pasco. For people 21 and older. No cover.