‘It’s just who we are’

Diné Pride Festival is first in Navajo Nation history

By Stacy Thacker
Special to the Times


Special to the Times | Stacy Thacker
Eddie George, left, and Vernon Newton, laugh and visit during the Diné Pride Festival on Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park in Window Rock.

He was 30 years old when he came out as gay.

Roland Tsosie, now 44, said it wasn’t easy to come out but he’s happy he did. “It’s hard being out there and closed,” he said, adding that when he attends Pride events he feels like he’s part of a family.

As Tsosie walked around the Diné Pride Festival on Saturday, he was surrounded by bright decorations, vendors selling rainbow cupcakes, shirts, flags and jewelry. He was surrounded by a community showing support for individuals celebrating who they are. Saturday’s festival in Window Rock celebrated lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals – individuals that Tsosie considers family.

“It’s just who we are. I’m happy for who I am,” Tsosie said.

More than 100 people from the community and out of town attended the historic event that included vendors, food trucks and a Tsehootsooi Medical Center mobile unit providing HIV and STI testing, as well as other health information – and free condoms.

The rainbow-colored stage stood out among the red rocks of the Veterans Memorial Park as Mattee Jim, hostess, got the day’s first drag show underway. Jim, a Navajo transgender woman, said she was honored to be invited to the event. Jim has been doing advocacy work for the LGBTQ community for years and said the Pride festival was needed on the Navajo Nation.

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Categories: News