George Marsden and his mom Carol Garabaldon/Courtesy photo
BY KELLY DOLEJSI
Friends of Los Alamos Pride
It’s time to celebrate LGBTQ+ pride! This year marks the sixth Los Alamos Pride Week, June 11-17, and the fourth in-person Pride Festival from 3-7 p.m. Friday June 16, on the lawn at Central Park Square (adjacent to Boese Bros and the Y Express). As Pride Week approaches, Friends of Los Alamos Pride would like to introduce its board members — the heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears behind all the county’s Pride festivities. Today, we would like you to meet founding board member George Marsden.
Who are you?
I currently wear two hats in my work in Los Alamos. I am the operations director at the Family YMCA and one of the co-directors of the Los Alamos Teen Center. I have lived in Los Alamos since 2006, initially working as the men’s clothing manager for CB Fox until 2013, when I started working at the Teen Center.
Why did you join FLAP?
As a cis-het, married, white, Christian I have a moral and Biblical duty to fight for the rights and dignity of every person. As the Baptismal Covenant of my faith asks, “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” To that I have answered many times, “I will, with God’s help.”
I joined FLAP in 2018 as one of the founding board members, following the first Los Alamos Pride Festival. I joined because I want every person to feel welcome in my community, and at that first Pride Festival I saw LGBTQ+ folks who grew up in this town openly cry because it was the first time they felt seen and welcome in their community. That had deep meaning and pointed to the need for Pride in this community.
Why is Pride important to you, to Los Alamos, and to the broader community?
Pride is important to me because it is an opportunity to say, in public and in a profound way, “You are loved!” to the LGBTQ+ folks in my life and in my community. As someone who has worked with teens in this community for nearly a decade, I have seen the struggle and pain in the lives of our queer youth when they do not feel accepted, or even worse, when they are actively rejected by their family. On the flip side, I have seen the impact of acceptance and support and the impact it has on their lives.
Pride in Los Alamos is important because it serves the national security mission. Unless you believe that intelligence and excellent scientific capabilities are limited to cis-gender, heterosexual folks, then the patriotic need to make Los Alamos a welcoming community for all is very clear. LANL has an important role to play in this ever more complicated world, and anything that would keep a potential staff member from feeling that they, or members of their family are fully welcome in this community is antithetical to that mission.
Pride is also important to me because it is personal. I have LGBTQ+ members of my family and have many LBGTQ+ friends. They are teenagers just trying to figure out who they are, parents raising kids, LANL staffers dedicated to the national security mission, veterans with years of distinguished service, clergy, teachers, college students, and artists.
Why is Pride important right now, at this point in history?
Pride is particularly important right now because of the many efforts in statutes around the country to limit the rights of LGBTQ+ citizens, and in the case of our trans friends and family, to try to legislate away their right to exist with dignity. This misguided hate, driven by raw ignorance and political opportunism, is evil in every sense of the word. While I have a limited ability to impact those moves in other states, I can do my part to make sure that LGBTQ+ people feel welcome in my local community and my state. Pride plays an important and practical role in that. By bringing together like-minded folks who believe in fighting for the inherent dignity of every person, we can better protect the rights we have and support the folks struggling to claw back theirs in other states.
Pride is also important because it gives us a moment to celebrate our LGBTQ+ friends and family and the progress we have made. Even with the current ugliness around the country, we have made tremendous progress.
What Pride event are you most looking forward to?
I am most excited about the Pride Festival itself on June 16. The three in-person festivals we have had since 2018 have been such a beautiful opportunity for folks to connect and reconnect. There is something very special about watching a young person who is just coming out to find themself surrounded by hundreds of people who accept and love them exactly as they are. Last year, I even got to meet a queer adult nearly my age who was just coming out, and for whom it was their first Pride festival. The look of peace on their face as they knew they were standing in the midst of folks who fully accepted them was amazing.
I extend an invitation to the whole community to join us for the Los Alamos Pride Festival on June 16. If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally, you are of course welcome. If you are someone who is not sure about all of this, but is open to learning more and possibly challenging the narratives being fed to you by some politicians and media, you are also welcome to respectfully attend.