A long time overdue: Pride on the Eastside

The first Redmond Pride will take place on September 3 from 1-4 p.m. at Redmond’s Downtown Park.

To celebrate Eastside’s LGBTQ+ community, including local artists and performers, businesses and organizations, Axton Burton (they/them) organized Redmond Pride. The event will take place from 1-4 p.m. Sept. 3 at Redmond’s Downtown Park.

Burton, a Redmond resident and LGBTQ+ activist, grew up in Duvall as one of the first openly gender nonconforming people to attend Cedarcrest High School. Prior to organizing Redmond Pride, Burton wondered if the city has ever held any Pride events.

“I was told by the mayor and city council members that people have been asking for it for about two decades now,” said Burton.

Redmond Pride will feature 49 vendors, including The Garage Teen Cafe, Room to Craft, Rudy’s, Writhe Pole Dance and Pawsome Goodies & Treats, among others. Additionally, musicians and drag queens will take the stage, such as Britton Bangs, Elizabeth Hill, Rose Prosecco and Mila Skyy.

Burton relayed how Redmond Pride has already made an impact on vendors and people who said they will attend, solely because of the opportunity.

“Knowing and finding out that these people exist, that these gems may be hidden around the Eastside — that they’re there for you — has already gotten a lot of love,” said Burton.

While Burton finds it inexcusable that the Eastside has never held a pride celebration, 300 to 400 people are expected to be at Redmond Pride. Burton brought up how LGBTQ+ individuals and allies on the Eastside aren’t always able to travel to Seattle to celebrate their identities.

“You shouldn’t have to leave your home to feel connected to your community,” said Burton.

For the event, Burton wanted to make sure that public restrooms are gender neutral, and met with Mayor Angela Birney to discuss options.

Burton said it took in-depth pushing to have gender neutral bathroom signs at Redmond Pride.

According to Burton, the lack of support from the city is ongoing. While in 2021 and 2022, the city raised a flag for Pride Month, the city will not be raising one for Redmond Pride. For Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) in 2021, the city of Redmond did not raise a Transgender pride flag to honor and remember transgender individuals who have lost their lives during the year.

“Last year, when we reached out and requested they raise the flag for TDOR, they refused and claimed they do not raise any flags other than the US and POW flags ever,” said Oliver Webb, Chair of Diversity Alliance of the Puget Sound, an organization that serves transgender and gender diverse individuals across the Puget Sound region, and a contributor to Redmond Pride.

According to Jill Smith, communications manager for the city of Redmond, the city does not currently have a flag raising policy and follows the state of Washington for guidance.

“Due to the large number of flag requests we receive, we are unfortunately unable to participate in each request,” said Smith, who added that the city raises the Pride flag for the month of June each year.

Webb is encouraged by the changes Burton is bringing to the Eastside.

“When Skye (Locke), my Board Secretary and I began restructuring DAPS, we highly considered a Diversity Center on the Eastside, then we met Axton Burton,” said Webb. “I think it’s a very long time coming for the Eastside and while we have work to do, it’s a big step.”

Burton is looking toward the future. They brought up how they’ve learned many lessons by organizing an individual event, and hope not to hold future Redmond Pride events on Labor Day weekend. They would also like to have more inclusive spaces on the event’s interactive map, more available parking, and an event longer than three hours.

For more information on Redmond Pride, visit https://www.redmondpride.org/