By Victoria Gaither
June is pride month when LGBTQIA2S, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and two spirits community celebrate being themselves.
The significance of June is to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, which lead to a tipping point in the Gay Rights movement in America.
For Rutland resident Karly Haven, the movement has come a long way locally. She started a meet-up group in Rutland for the LGBTQ+ community back in 2018. “
There was a void there, so I started a meet-up group,” she said.
The group grew, and as a result, more awareness of the LGBTQ+ community was visible in places like Rutland and other communities.
“I think people are more accepting in certain ways; larger corporations are more accepting and reaching out, but there are still many people in crisis in this community, especially trans people,” Haven said.
So when “All Are Welcome” here pride banners went up again this year in downtown Rutland, and Killington Resort came on board to put up banners at the resort, it was a big deal to Haven. “It’s important for me to see Pride Banners in Rutland because it shows that Rutland is a diverse community with many people in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, and we deserve to be celebrated. We are woven into the fabric of Rutland County,” she said.
Behind the scenes working to make sure this happens is Jeanette Langston, the founder and director of Social Tinkering and the facilitator of Rutland Plus. This group believes all human beings deserve recognition, acceptance, and happiness.
“I have been working on creating Social Tinkering my whole life, and particularly in the last three years, to help people feel seen, valued, and experience true belonging,” Langston said. “I wanted to create and build spaces where people feel like they can bring their whole selves, be authentic, and feel welcome.”
Langston’s work goes deeper than just banners but rather a responsibility to make sure anyone living in Rutland and surrounding communities are seen and heard.
“One way to do that was through the “All Are Welcome Here LGBTQ+ Visibility Campaign began in June 2021. We raised over $5000 to pay for banners for downtown Rutland, yard signs, and stickers.”
The group is holding a pride event on June 17 at the Chaffee Art Center, a Rainbow Tree Project in partnership with Mountain Music, and a second year of the Crystal Queer podcast.
Haven, who has seen her share of the good and bad, said, “I do feel hope. I think every year, it gets better.” With Killington Resort coming on board, Langston says it’s an acknowledgment of the community support in a big way.
“When Killington reached out to us and got involved, we were thrilled,” Langston said.