Your community connector

Affirming Pride

Locations: Columns, Opinion Published

“Being gay is not a choice” is a mantra, a drum to which I’ve danced, since I made the best choice of my life: to no longer hide my full self. It wasn’t an easy decision to make at the time, having been conditioned for the first 23 years of my life that being gay was not okay. 

I’m 33 as I write this, and it seems a fitting opportunity to reflect that these past 10 years have been the best yet. That’s not to say it hasn’t been challenging. I’ve been called a “faggot” by people who were my friends, and others I don’t even know outside of our Glenwood Springs home where we proudly fly a Pride flag.

  • Film Festival thumbnail

The reality is, we all are conditioned to have prejudices. Though, I know we have the capacity to learn to accept and affirm in others what cannot be changed. I made my first out transgender friend in college and, for longer than I’d like to admit, it didn’t come natural for me to address her by her proper pronouns. Today, we keep tabs on one another from afar and I am happy to report that she is not living quietly, but proudly as the beautiful woman she is. I will always be grateful that she made me realize we both have a quality within us that could never be quelled at Jesus camp, or through self-ridicule. We are who we are and that’s beautiful and unchangeable. 

The point is, none of us are perfect and we’re all learning. And, it’s okay to learn from people who are younger — I certainly do. We can only try our best, and take account when we offend. Some may call that “snowflaking,” others “common decency.”

  • RJ PADDY thumbnail

Across the country, the LGBTQ community is feeling ostracized by lawmakers. Including here at home, where our congresswoman, Lauren Boebert, mocked Pride Month on June 1 with a tweet, “I’m PROUD to be an American!” 

In the Valley, the Town of Carbondale seems to have led the way to affirm its LGBTQ constituents, with an annual Pride Parade that coincides with the Family Block Party, turning all of downtown into a safe-space for all ages — including those only beginning to realize their sexual identity and orientation. Without this type of support, certainly for the time being, we’ll have scores of kids questioning if the feelings they cannot help are “normal,” resulting in isolation that can lead to the worst consequences — and certainly has.

  • Dave Taylor thumbnail

Roaring Fork School District is undergoing changes in its curriculum and administratively to help ensure all of its students feel welcomed. While it’s been met with quite a bit of backlash, it’s reassuring to know the conversation is being had. 

And, Glenwood Springs is hosting its second annual Pride event on June 10 at Bethel Plaza. 

  • Carbondale Animal Hospital thumbnail

Glenwood Springs Pride

Kaleb Cook of Cook Inclusive holds the reins in organizing this year’s Glenwood Springs Pride Festival. Cook, in fact, started the tradition when he was working for the city last year, a position he’s since moved on from.

  • KDNK thumbnail

The city is a main sponsor, “making the event a reality,” said Cook. “But, they’ve really given it back to the community,” he continued. 

“To empower a community-led event, we have been transitioning the event organization to leaders in the LGBTQ community,” echoed a Glenwood Springs spokesperson, “so that they have ownership over the festival.”

“This year, we’re going bigger and better,” Cook shared. “Our big focus is getting as many people to the event as possible and making sure it’s accessible, equitable and a sensory-safe environment for all.” 

It will be a trilingual event, with Spanish and American Sign Language interpretation. There are more than 30 vendors, up from last year’s 10, made up of organizations in service to the LGBTQ and disabled communities. Following last year’s event, Cook explained that the vendor organizations saw an increase in program participation, particularly among young people who were exposed to their services during Pride 2022. 

“The main hope is getting more people access and opening the door to the services we have in the Valley,” continued Cook. “Use them, they’re free, they’re amazing.” 

Live music starts and vendors open at 5pm. At 6:30pm, representatives from the various sponsors, including AspenOUT, the City of Glenwood Springs and REI, will give speeches followed by a specially-recorded statement from Governor Jared Polis. At 7:30pm the incomparable Roaring Divas drag stars take the stage. 

Visit for a list of events up and down the Valley this month, and for resources serving LGBTQ youth and adults. 

Have a happy Pride, everyone.

Tags: #Glenwood Springs #Kaleb Cook #LGBTQ+ #Pride
▲Top ▲Top