Pride comes to Orcas Island

Pride comes to Orcas Island

Calling all Orcas Island allies. Time to dust off those pride flags from 2013 and fly them free.

The inaugural Orcas Island Pride event is taking shape on stage in the Village Green on Sunday, June 23 from 12-5 p.m. This is an invitation to celebrate expression, engage with local organizations who provide support and resources for the LGBTQIA+ community, including the Orcas High School Gender and Sexuality Alliance, and learn about the history of pride and queerness. All are welcome to contribute and explore. This is an opportunity to spend time with the idea that world peace starts at home.

“I can donate a ton of fishnets,” organizer Noah Sheppard said.

It’s been six years since an Orcas letter to the editor attracted the most online attention in Islands’ Sounder history, regarding the removal of a Brown Bear Bakery pride flag after anonymous complaints came in proclaiming its offensiveness.

The subsequent positive outpouring of support was loud and heart-warming, and while Orcas Island had the highest show of support in the state for same-sex marriages (74 percent voted yes), that still means about one in four people were against equality.

In a time when Presidential policy requires express permission for rainbow pride flags to be flown at U.S. embassies, with zero approved requests so far, we must unite locally.

Event Chair Maddie Olson pointed out in a planning meeting: “This organizing needs to be intersectional; if it isn’t intersectional, it can’t happen. Orcas is a homogeneous community, but that doesn’t mean we can’t represent different perspectives and narratives. We are doing what we can this year with 16 days to concept, plan and execute this event to include individuals with lived experiences. If anyone would like to get involved, please reach out.”

The first Orcas pride event includes hourly performances by local musicians and themed dance hours (disco, baby) by local DJs and gay open-mic for music, dance and spoken word. Local organizations will guide us through information on Queer history and gay flagging history. Play in an “Explore Your Gender” dress-up booth, an arts and crafts corner and a photo booth.

If you would like to get involved with performances or arts and culture, email

Orcas Pride is a family-friendly event sponsored by San Juan County Parks and Fair. Bring a picnic, snacks and your water bottle — picnic blankets will be available. Water will be provided, however, this is an intentionally waste-free, money-free event with no food or beverage vendors. If you would like to show support for this event, come to the Hairy-oke (karaoke with wigs!) fundraising party for Orcas Pride at the Lower Tavern on Friday, June 21.