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Summer of Pride comes to Camas

Events amplify, celebrate LGBTQ voices with 'More than a Pronoun' panel on Thursday, May 12; open mic night on Saturday, May 14

Summer of Pride Clark County, a group dedicated to elevating and celebrating the local LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community, is coming to downtown Camas this month with two events showcasing LGBTQ voices and experiences.

The Camas Public Library, in partnership with Summer of Pride Clark County and Northwest Gender Alliance, will host the first event, “More than a Pronoun,” a diverse, online panel discussion on gender identity and expression, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 12, via Zoom.

Ellen Miles, the library’s programming and outreach coordinator, said the Camas library’s 2019-20 strategic planning called for an increase in the number of events that promoted inclusivity and diversity, so library staff have been seeking more inclusive programs to offer their patrons and the Camas community.

Miles had read about a New Hampshire library that had hosted a successful, online “More than a Pronoun” panel discussion on everything from the differences between gender identity and sexuality and what it means to identify as transgender or nonbinary to why “they” is used as a singular pronoun and what it means to “deadname” someone, and said she wanted to bring something similar to Camas.

“The library in New Hampshire had good turnout and a positive response, and I thought this would be a good fit for Camas,” Miles said. “I reached out to (Camas Public Library Director Connie Urquhart) and she was 100 percent supportive.”

The online panel, moderated by Summer of Pride Clark County coordinator Kim Takenishi, will feature speakers sharing their own lived experiences surrounding gender identity and expression.

“This is an easy entry point for people who might have questions, or who want to get more educated (about gender identity), or for people who might have questions about how they can be an ally,” Miles said.

The “More than a Pronoun” conversation will focus on the panelists, and only panelists will have their cameras on during the Zoom event.

“The panelists will be sharing their personal stories,” Miles said. “This is a safe space. People can come and not have their cameras on … and just enjoy the conversation. We’re focusing on the panel. They are the ones that are stepping up. Those who would like to attend can be as anonymous as they’d like.”

Although the panel will include one youth, Miles said the library’s target audience for the “More than a Pronoun” event is adults.

“We do have one youth panelist, but most of the people coming will be adults,” she said.

The event is free, but registration is required and will remain open until shortly before the event begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 12. The library will put a link to the Zoom event on its website on Friday, May 13, for people who are interested in the conversation around gender identity and pronouns but who may be unable to attend the May 12 event.

To register, visit bit.ly/CPLPronoun.

Miles said the library is tentatively planning to host a monthly speaker series beginning this fall in conjunction with Summer of Pride Clark County and the Northwest Gender Alliance.

“When we made our last strategic plan, in 2018, we did a huge community survey, and people were talking about this need for more events that celebrate diversity and inclusiveness on a range of topics,” Miles said, “so these (events) are helping to meet that need.”

Open mic event planned at LiveWell Camas

The second Summer of Pride event happening in Camas this month is an open mic gathering at LiveWell Camas in downtown Camas from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14.

“We’re creating space for folks in the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual/agender) community to share stories and poetry or music … however they want to show up,” said LiveWell Camas owner Jacquie Michelle.

LiveWell Camas also is partnering with Summer of Pride Clark County for the event.

“It will be an evening of light refreshments and storytelling,” Michelle said. “People don’t need to sign up for the open mic. They can just show up.”

LiveWell Camas is located at 417 N.E. Birch St., in downtown Camas. For more information, visit livewellcamas.com.

To learn more about Summer of Pride Clark County, or to see other Summer of Pride events happening throughout the region, visit facebook.com/ccsummerofpride.