Guest column: Duvall’s reaction to remove Pride Wall undermines progress

“This reaction only serves to amplify the tolerance of hate,” writes former resident Jenna Navin.

As someone who grew up in this community and faced frequent intolerance due to my sexual orientation, I understand the importance of creating a safe and inclusive space for the LGBTQIA+ community.

My family moved to Duvall in 1992, when I was only three years old. Being raised in Duvall, a small and somewhat rural town, I experienced firsthand the lack of acceptance towards the Queer community during my time at Tolt Middle School and Cedarcrest High School. This led me to transfer to Two Rivers Alternative School in North Bend at the age of 16, where my parents and I hoped to find a more accepting environment. Thankfully, that is exactly what I found. However, this is not the case for many kids – then, now and those before me. It is disheartening to think that the progress made in my hometown, symbolized by the Pride Wall, may be undermined by recent acts of hate and discrimination.

The Pride Wall has served as a beacon of inclusivity and acceptance for over a year, providing solace and support to both locals and visitors of the LGBTQIA+ community. If such a display had been available during my teenage years, I believe it would have made a significant difference in my life, sparing me years of emotional struggle.

After leaving Duvall, I moved to Chelan, where I now reside with my wife and our son. Last year, I founded Chelan Pride, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering a safe and welcoming environment for the LGBTQIA+ community in the Chelan Valley. Our small community, much like Duvall, has seen remarkable growth over the past decade. However, creating and maintaining an inclusive culture requires the support and encouragement of our leaders and government agencies.

The recent and mysterious addition of a white supremacist symbol, the pine tree flag, is very alarming. The City’s knee-jerk reaction to remove the Pride Wall in response to this hateful act is even more so. This reaction only serves to amplify the tolerance of hate and undermines the progress made in creating a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community that resides in and visits Duvall, Carnation, Fall City, and beyond.

I urge the leadership of Duvall to take a stand against the spread of hate and intolerance. I would like to suggest the installation of a permanent Pride display in Duvall, such as a mural or large sign, to demonstrate continuous support for our Queer community members. This would serve as a powerful symbol of unity and strength against discrimination, while also fostering a sense of community that embraces diversity.

Jenna Navin is the president of Chelan Pride and a former resident of the Snoqualmie Valley.