BI Pride event July 27 has new leadership

Pride month may come and go, but love is always on time.

Bainbridge Island’s annual celebration of the queer community will commence at noon July 27 in Waterfront Park with up to 30 artisans and local organizations, food trucks, dancing, drag queen performers (including the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence) and Queer Prom starting at 6 p.m. — dressing to impress is encouraged.

The schedule may be familiar, but the celebration is under new direction this year: Rainbow Crew Northwest, a small queer advocacy group that organizes and connects queer and trans events around the Olympic Peninsula, will be hosting.

Derek Villanueva, co-founder and president of BI Pride, the island’s typical host organization, has stepped back to focus on expansion of his business, Millstream Bainbridge, but remains on the board of BI Pride.

“This is solely because Derek is so busy. It’s not right to do it without him. He’s made such a huge contribution to gay, queer and trans organizations around the county,” said Eve Parlay, trans BI resident and boardmember of Rainbow Crew NW.

Most municipalities celebrate Pride during global Pride Month in June. However, since Bainbridge has so many events in late June and early July — graduation, the Grand Old Fourth parade, the Rotary Auction, plus other large Pride events nearby — the local queer community decided to strategically postpone local celebrations.

“We want to spread celebrations out and not compete with anything else. For the last two years, we’ve been in the middle of July to make sure we have good weather — June can be ‘yes’ and ‘no’ on the same day,” Parlay said.

Bainbridge Pride is a reflection of the community, which means that Rainbow Crew NW is working with the Queer Elders group at the BI Senior Center, churches and family-oriented organizations like KiDiMu, Parlay said. It’s important to show that even at the institutional level, Bainbridge is a welcoming place, Parlay added.

“Every Pride celebration has its own way of doing things, ” Parlay said. “The queer and trans community is part of Bainbridge. We are totally integrated […] “We can’t change anything in Louisiana, but we can make it clear that we’re welcoming here. We get to come out once a year and say, ‘Let’s have some fun!’”