BY B. ENGEMAN
I wasn’t going to write this letter. Pride Week is a fraught one for me; I never quite know where I fit in as a person who has only heteronormative relationships despite being a queer person and having had queer relationships in the past, however, I want to send a thank you to the community so here it goes.
Last year, the White Rock was painted for Pride Week and within hours, someone dumped gray paint over it, not to repaint it, just to cover the painting for Pride Week. This went on all week. It became a battle of bigotry versus inclusion and it really impacted me and my family in ways I can’t go into.
It looked as though it was set to start again this week. Within a couple of hours of the dedicated hard work spent decorating the rock, it was painted over. This happens, we all know it. We can paint the rock, someone might come through and cover it. But we knew what it was, another attempt to silence folks someone disagrees with.
It was painted again by the Friends of Los Alamos Pride, and then someone came by to paint it for a birthday. And that was great! The birthday message wasn’t painted over by the anonymous gray painter. The groups who were painting for Pride left that message up the whole day as well. We all do our best to let people use this weird, free, message board in the heart of our community.
Then yesterday, the rock was painted with vibrant Rainbows, Pride affirmations and a birthday message to my own kid. I didn’t do it, friends and people who know us did this with their own time, energy and kindness. It was so cool to see, we loved seeing it as we left town to celebrate, and I thought for sure that the rock would be covered up when we drove back into town. I dreaded seeing that, to be honest. Wondering if the delightful and heartfelt message would be covered up with gray paint, or maybe something worse; slurs or hate speech. What message would that send to a kid who’d had a pretty stellar birthday?
It was still there. My kid got to see love and acceptance and a birthday wish coming and going throughout their day. It meant a lot. It may not seem huge, but for our family, it mattered. Thank you to all who painted, and to those who held off painting over that painting. Thank you.