Willie Anderson holds up a flag in front at a short PFLAG gathering held near the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Willie Anderson holds up a flag in front at a short PFLAG gathering held near the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Despite pandemic, they’ve still got Pride

PFLAG and Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition gather near glacier.

The bluish hue of the Mendenhall Glacier served Saturday as a backdrop for rainbow-clad people.

With most Pride month events canceled in light of the ongoing pandemic, PFLAG Juneau and Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition held a brief meet up and photo op near the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center to celebrate Pride.

“I wanted to at least get a group photo,” said Jenny Smith, co-chair of PFLAG Juneau.

Garrette Reece stands near signs decrying the Trump administration’s decision to reverse an Obama-era rule that provided nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people when it comes to health care and health insurance. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Garrette Reece stands near signs decrying the Trump administration’s decision to reverse an Obama-era rule that provided nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people when it comes to health care and health insurance. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

PFLAG was known until 2014 as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and the organization has over 400 chapters across the country. Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition training and outreach coordinator Jan Reece distributed pamphlets that list resources for promoting connecting and wellness within Juneau’s LGBTQ+ community.

About a dozen people gathered for about a half four to hold signs and flags near the visitor center for the event that was also a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

About a dozen people gather in front of Mendenhall Glacier for a photo in celebration of Pride month, Saturday, June 27, 2020. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

About a dozen people gather in front of Mendenhall Glacier for a photo in celebration of Pride month, Saturday, June 27, 2020. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

One sign stated “Black Transgender Lives Matter” and listed the names of Dominique Rem’mie Fells, Riah Milton, Titi Gulley, Nikki Kuhnhausen, Ashanti Carmon, Claire Legato, Tamika Washington and Denali Berries Stuckey.

In 2o2o, 16 transgender or gender nonconforming people have been killed by violent means, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

While signs noted deaths and recent setbacks for the LGBTQ+ community, including the Trump administration’s reversal on transgender health protections, Smith said there is also a lot to celebrate.

That includes the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision earlier this month that affirmed people cannot be fired on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender expression, Smith said.

“This is a celebration of Pride, a celebration of the Supreme Court decision,” Smith said. “A celebration of gains we made.”

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

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