LGBTQIA+ Pride Emerges Creatively

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By Judi Morales Meyer

Although Pride month is officially in June, our local LGBTQIA+ community has been gathering at fun new events.

“It’s tough living in a place that can feel so isolating as a queer person, so opportunities like these are incredibly impactful and really do so much good for the hearts and minds of everyone in our community,” said Nico Bolen, a high school senior who makes upcycled clothing and teaches youth sewing at Truckee Roundhouse.

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In February, the Truckee Roundhouse makerspace began hosting a series of monthly LGBTQIA+ craft workshops, developed after a member survey revealed a need for such programs.

“In our continued efforts to be an inclusive and safe space for all makers in the community, we have launched a monthly workshop series geared at engaging local LGBTQIA+ makers,” said Alissa Aiton, community manager at Truckee Roundhouse. “We hope to elevate and amplify the many creative and diverse voices of our community by providing space for networking, collaborating, and building connections that can lead to innovative projects, partnerships, and friendships.”

The free to low-cost workshops aim to provide queer creatives with a space to generate ideas, explore, learn, and be supported in their community. Instructors and mentors guide activities focused on creative play, exploration, and self-expression in a variety of mediums.

Bolen and some friends attended the first event, Creature Comforts, during which students hand-sewed a custom creature from upcycled sweaters. “It allowed me to explore this fun and engaging craft and let my creativity go wild, as well as feel a sense of community and connection to other queer people,” Bolen said.

Highschooler Arabella Etzold also participated in Creature Comforts, saying, “It was a fun way to connect with the community.” Etzold is looking forward to Truckee Pride Week events, “… especially my school’s Rainbow Rock & Roll event that I am roller-skating in.”

Upcoming roundhouse workshops open for registration include I Felt Something, a felting workshop scheduled in April; Print with Pride, a custom vinyl shirt design workshop in May; and LGBTea-Time, an herbal tea workshop set for June. Tie-dye, embroidery patch-making, and lino-cut printmaking workshops are in the works for August through October.

The series of programming is sponsored by the Martis Camp Foundation, the Richard Reed Foundation, and the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation Queen of Hearts Women’s Fund.

“We are grateful to these foundation partners for helping expand the enrichment opportunities offered in our community and helping empower more people to explore their creative potential,” said Karyn Stanley, Truckee Roundhouse executive director.

LGBTQIA+ workshops are open to adults and teens 16 and up, at any experience level. Space is limited, so participants must register online at truckeeroundhouse.org.

Truckee Pride is a new nonprofit grassroots organization, creating events for people of all sexual orientations, backgrounds, and lifestyles, who support diversity in the Truckee community.

MATTER OF PRIDE: The Truckee Pride organizers and volunteers. Photo by David Mack

“We have a small, solid gay community here,” said David Mack, founder and lead organizer of Truckee Pride.

Originally from Northern Ireland, Mack moved to Truckee four years ago for mountain climbing and skiing. At that time, there wasn’t much of a LGBTQIA+ presence in the community, and Mack began reaching out to others. In December 2023, the core group that developed began planning its first big event, Truckee Pride Week, scheduled for June 3 to 9.

“We first reached out to Truckee Town Council,” Mack said. “Within hours, they replied back enthusiastically and said yes.”

After meeting with Erica Mertens, Truckee’s diversity program manager, an announcement was posted on social media, which picked up traction. Businesses, organizations, and individuals stepped up to sponsor and help with the event.

“We’ve been blown away by the response. Truckee got on board and made it happen,” Mack said. “The nice thing about living in a mountain town, we all look out for each other.”

Pride Week includes 14 unique events, including a weeklong scavenger hunt, mountain sports like bouldering, paddling and hiking, plus a crafting session with DJ Mutable spinning tunes at Dark Horse Coffee. The week wraps up with a 5k run on June 9, finishing at Truckee River Regional Park with live music, vendors, and food trucks.

“Everyone is welcome,” said Mack. “You don’t need to be queer.”

During Truckee Pride Week, local businesses will participate with window displays, and Visit Truckee-Tahoe is sponsoring the installation of Pride flags in downtown Truckee. Other sponsors include Marsden Architects, SketchDeck, and Church of the Mountains, with support from Town of Truckee, Lake Tahoe Pride, Tahoe Expeditionary Academy, and Truckee Chamber of Commerce. The hope is that Pride Week will grow the LGBTQIA+ community by offering opportunities to meet and participate.

Founded in 2010, Lake Tahoe Pride in South Lake Tahoe has created a safe and welcoming place for the LGBTQIA+ community. The group hosts events like Heavenly Pride Day, a Pride community breakfast, and a screening of the documentary People Like Us. The group also hosts weekly mixers like game night. Learn more at @TruckeePride.

“It means a lot to have local organizations showing up for the queer community. Knowing that these places support us and our right to exist makes me feel safer in our community,”, said Bolen, who plans to attend multiple events. “I don’t have to hide who I am at these places.”

~ Judi Morales Meyer is an artist, seamstress, and instructor of LGBTQIA+ workshops at Truckee Roundhouse. As an advocate for social justice and art education, Meyer is a strong supporter of of the LGBTQIA+ community.


Upcoming LGBTQIA+ Craft Workshops

April 12: I Felt Something — Making Felted Friends

May 10: Print with Pride — Custom Vinyl T-Shirt Making

June 14: LGBTea-Time — Herbal Tea Workshop

July 26: Glazin’ is Amazin’ — Paint Ceramic Mugs

August TBD: Show Your True Colors — Tie-Dye Extravaganza

September: Here’s Hoopin — Embroidery Patches

October TBD: Make Your Mark — Lino Cutting and Printmaking

Visit truckeeroundhouse.org/schedule for more.

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