The Federal Way City Council presented a proclamation on June 7, honoring the month of June as Pride Month.
Above City Hall, the Pride flag was raised on June 1 and will fly throughout the month. In addition, there are four Pride flags displayed along South 320th Street in downtown Federal Way. Colors on the flag represent life, healing, sunlight, nature, harmony and spirit. In addition, the black and brown stripes represent diversity and inclusivity.
The flag is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally and pansexual (LGBTQIA+) community pride and social movements.
The proclamation was read by Federal Way City Councilmember Erica Norton, who said she is the mother of a person who identifies as non-binary and queer.
The City of Federal Way proclamation states “all are welcome in our city to live, work, play, and every family, deserves a place to call home where they are safe, happy, and supported by friends and neighbors” and that “it is imperative that all people in our community, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression, feel valued, safe, and supported by their peers and community leaders.”
It also states that “we denounce prejudice and unfair discrimination based on age, gender identity, gender expression, race, color, religion, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, or physical attributes as an affront to our fundamental principles.”
The proclamation was signed by all councilmembers except Councilmember Jack Walsh. In a phone call on June 8, Walsh said not signing the proclamation was intentional.
“I did not feel good about promoting something that I don’t agree with,” Walsh said of his choice to not sign the proclamation, adding, “I don’t want to endorse that lifestyle.”
The following day in a written response, Walsh elaborated on his stance.
“I absolutely believe that the LGBTQ community has the right to live their lives as they choose and I staunchly defend their right to do so. I have friends and dear family members who are gay and lesbian. Although I do not endorse their lifestyle, I love and respect them. I do not discriminate against them and believe it is wrong for others to do so. I firmly believe we are all children of a loving God who loves each of us individually,” Walsh said in an email to the Mirror.
“As an individual and as a city councilmember, I respect them and respect their right to believe and practice what they may, whether or not I agree with it,” Walsh said. “It is my hope that although they may disagree with it, they will nonetheless respect my position.”
Allison Fine, vice chair of the Federal Way Diversity Commission and founder of Federal Way Pride, accepted the proclamation on June 7 with Donte Peoples, a Special Olympics powerlifter who recently came out as queer. The proclamation made by the City Council was made to simply acknowledge that it is Pride Month, said Fine.
“Our LGBTQIA+ community doesn’t need a Councilmember’s approval to exist,” she said. “It is a weak leader who personalizes this kind of situation. While he didn’t say it directly, this likely stems from his religious beliefs as he is an open and proud Mormon. I happen to be Agnostic but I respect his lifestyle choice and believe that mutual respect is what moves our community forward. Elected leadership should represent their entire community and this act was that of a self-serving man.”
If speaking to Walsh directly, Fine said she would say: “Sir, if you don’t want to support a ‘gay lifestyle’ then don’t live one, but as long as queer people live in this community and you are an elected official, you should feel obligated to support all of your constituents, even those who are different from you.”
Federal Way Pride is celebrating with a year-long series of events, deemed “The Pride Train.”
Upcoming events include bingo, brunches, movie nights, comedy shows and more. The first-ever Pride Picnic is set for 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6 at Wayside United Church of Christ (2000 SW Dash Point Road in Federal Way). All are welcome to pride events, Fine said.
For more information, visit Federal Way Pride on Facebook or fwlgbtq.org.