North Dakotans share what Pride Month means to them

Good Day Dakota

June marks Pride Month and it also marks the 50th anniversary of The Stonewall Riots, in which the LGBTQ community fought against harassment in New York City.

This month is not only a celebration but also a reminder of the hardships the LGBTQ community has faced.

I got the opportunity to talk to some locals who shared what this month means to them.

Dakota OutRight Board Member, James Guerrant says, “We are just people trying to live our life just like everybody else.”
Guerrant tells me he came out at the age of 19. He says the hardest part about his whole experience was realizing he wasn’t any different from anyone else.
“Who I love is the same sex as me, that’s the only difference. My last partner, I was with for 18 years before he passed away, and we were just as boring as the people next door. And I knew at the end of the day that somebody was there just like a straight married couple. I knew someone was there and I wasn’t doing this all on my own,” says Guerrant.
Guerrant says this month might not mean a lot to some but for him, this month is the chance to feel equal. 
“For me, it’s nice to hear hey I don’t care, still at 51 and being out for many years. It’s still nice for someone to pat me on the shoulder and say I don’t care. You know we don’t care about this part of your life.”
But Brandi Jude refers to some North Dakota anti-discrimination legislation that did not pass in this most recent session as a setback.
“With legislation not passing with the 2303 bill, there’s still that message that gets sent to our community that we are not ready to see you.”
Jude says she recently came out and although she thinks North Dakota still has some room for improvement, she says this month means more to her than she had ever thought.
“It means so much to be seen. I’m just feeling just a lot of joy,” says Jude. “You know I didn’t think that pride month was going to mean anything different to me than any other month, but being in the closet for so long and to have a month that is openly celebrated is very overwhelming and with a lot of emotions and I wasn’t expecting to feel any of these.”
Both Jude and Guerrant say if you are feeling alone the best thing to do is reach out to someone. And one of the organizations you can reach out to is Dakota OutRight.
The organization’s mission is to serve the LGBTQIA community in North Dakota. This year Dakota OutRight will celebrate Pride Month by putting on a riverboat cruise, parties, potlucks, and even a drag show. 

I talked to one of the board members who tells me this year they are expecting one of their biggest turnouts and are asking for volunteers.
For more information, click here.

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