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Y’all Means All: LGBTQIA2S+ in the Unc Valley

Change is tough, but some changes are tougher than others. The Pride movement is the joyful answer to the question of how to bring change to communities to make them more representative and welcoming for everyone

Photo courtesy of Xavier Saenz

As recently as 1962, many LGBTQIA2S+ families found they had to use code to identify themselves, saying “Are you a friend of Dorothy’s” to signify their sexuality. Pride has been a way to push back against stigma and create a safe space to defeat homophobia and other forms of prejudice. The Uncompahgre Valley is a flourishing place and is home to people from all walks of life, all colors, creeds, nationalities, and sexual orientations

Delta Pride has been at the forefront when it comes to creating safe spaces for those that are marginalized, not only in Delta, but in the surrounding counties. Just as the town of Delta derives its name from the topography created by the confluence of the Uncompahgre and Gunnison Rivers, Delta Pride strives to combine LGBTQIA2S+ communities and other populations to flow as one. Just as the Uncompahgre flows alongside many towns in the valley, the message created by Delta Pride has flowed out to the surrounding towns.

As early as 2013, Delta Pride brought the first taste of drag to the area. The show was called “It’s About Time,” and attracted performers from Grand Junction, Colorado Springs and as far as Utah to entertain and support one another. Although some may have hoped, nobody could have known that that show would change the lives of many people in this otherwise rural area.

Pride is more than just entertainment however; family events are the central focus of Delta Pride. This allowed the group to support the Unite LGBTQ Pride Festival in Montrose; sponsor a Transgender Day of Remembrance event at the Ute Indian Museum in Montrose and in Cedaredge; provide music for Fruita Equality’s first event. Continuing the theme of creating safe spaces, Delta Pride created an online event called “Don’t Dis My Ability” for differently abled LGBTQIA2S+ people.

Change became apparent and enshrined in the community when 2021 Delta Pride received its first proclamation read by the City of Delta. That same change was also enshrined in Ouray County when that same year Ouray’s first ever Pride event also received a proclamation from the county.

Standing on the shoulders of all of those that put in work, effort and sacrifice into making this valley a tolerant palace for all, including the Delta Pride organization, Ouray Pride came about in a matter of months. Driven by a group of teenagers from Ouray and Ridgway, there were several other key players that made the event possible. Tera Wick, a mother of a transgender youth, the Safer More Affirming Communities group, Voyager Youth Program, and community volunteers worked to support the vision of the teenagers and helped them to make it reality.

Voyager sponsored the event with financial backing and resources through a grant from the Colorado Health Foundation that supports Ouray County LBGTQ+ youth. Communities that Care, an organization that supports the development of youth leadership skills, contributed, too. The visionary teenagers also raised $2,390 through a GoFundMe.

The Ouray County Pride event took place on July 25 as Pride Celebration Day. Trennie Collins, a member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, kicked off the event with a land acknowledgement. Over 300 people attended and enjoyed music and a drag show courtesy of Delta Pride in the Town Park.

A second Ouray County Pride event is planned for this year and Delta Pride has several events planned. Even so, there is a long way to go and more change needed, but even the longest journeys start with a single step.

To find out more about both organizations or to get involved or support them, find them both on Facebook.

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