It’s pride weekend in the capital city.
Local non-profit ‘Dakota Outright’ organized several events to celebrate diversity and acceptance.
But sometimes it’s lonely to be in the minority, even in a community full of people.
Lisa Loar, or L.T., traveled from Jamestown to talk to a room full of people about community building.
She explains, “Everybody’s got their own problems but we’re all together trying to help each other as much as we can. You know, maybe just a hug or a ‘You got this’.”
Loar says a group of like-minded people is especially important for the LGBTQ community.
She adds, “We live a life with the hetero-normative so much and there’s nothing wrong with it, but sometimes we just need to back off and be somewhere where we’re the dominant culture in a sense.”
The morning was full of reflection, sharing and togetherness.
It was held here at the Unitarian Universalist Church, but they called it a multi-faith service. It was non-denominational and open to people of any religious background.
All of the speakers shared stories of when they didn’t feel welcome, especially in a faith-based environment.
Speaker Kevin Tengesdal says, “It’s been touch and go and everything, but for awhile there I was denying who I was.”
He says there’s no reason you can’t be both gay and religious.
Tengesdal adds, “People still fight against it and everything, so that’s where I want to stand in the gap and let people know, ‘Hey, it’s okay’.”
Everyone was welcome to share. Markers and fabric were provided to write down your thoughts.
Brian Palecek represented a Quaker group, ‘Society of Friends’.
He says, “I love this theme of discovering community and people think about, ‘What does it mean to be connected to people?’ Whether it’s, like we say, the LGBT community or this community, which means that you have some common ground.”
Tengesdal says community is “your chosen family: who you embrace, who embraces you; who welcomes you in.”
And the most important thing is that no one was alone today.
The service was organized by four different faith communities in the Bismarck-Mandan area. They hope to do this again next year.