OPINION – Why Pride celebrations are necessary and important

Jun 29, 2023 | Editorial

By Kayla Carroll – Special to the Alpine Mountaineer

The 4th annual Lake Arrowhead Pride Festival was wonderful and joyous. I had such a good time being surrounded by support and love. Growing up in these mountains, I have never seen so many people like me. People who love and support love.

My friend and I were leaving this festival of love, community and pride with smiles on our faces and glitter in our hair. We decided to take the elevator back up to where we parked and mistakenly got off on the wrong floor. The elevator was closing by the time we realized so we waited for the next one. It all seemed harmless at the time.

When we stepped off the elevator, my friend heard two teenage boys voicing their concerns about getting burned before they ran through the door to the right of us.

We didn’t think much of it.

Then they opened the door and displayed for my friend and me, who were wearing rainbow and glitter, a Pride flag they had set on fire. They smiled at us and made snide remarks. For better or worse, I flipped him off as the door shut.

There was a moment when the door was closed and the elevator still had not arrived that I was annoyed. This is nothing new to me. I was raised here in these mountains and attended the same school system as them. I have heard and witnessed the hate for others who are not like them. I’ve been on the receiving side of that hate my entire life. And then they opened the door again.

They threw the burning Pride flag at me. It bounced off my arm. It did not burn me, but it hurt. My heart hurt for these boys who couldn’t be more than 13. They were so young and yet had so much hate in their hearts.

They were concerned about burning themselves. They were scared that they were going to burn their hands with the lighter they held. They were risking their own safety and the safety of everyone on this fire-vulnerable mountain to burn this symbol of love. They didn’t have a crowd. They chose a secluded part of the Village to cater to their audience: themselves. This was their private show of hate and intolerance and they willfully risked their own safety for it.

I understand that they have received this hateful stance from their environment growing up. I would know – I grew up in the same environment, but I was lucky to have an accepting and welcoming family to teach me otherwise.

This does not make this act OK. This simply proves why Pride celebrations are so important. People like these two kids need to be exposed to more perspectives than those filled with hatred. These festivals are for education as much as they are for celebrating progress.

I do not regret attending this festival and proudly wearing my identity on my sleeve. I will continue to support these events, educate others and be proud of my community.


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