Saturday, June 22, 2013

Capital City Pride Day 2013 - People Working Together

Above: Daniel Bumbarger, 25, and Noel Coley, 20, staff the Mpowerment Olympia booth at Capital City Pride in downtown Olympia today. 

by Janine Unsoeld

The official theme of Capital City Pride 2013 was "Advancing Our Pride - Moving Forward Together." As it turns out, it really was about people working together to make it happen, from beginning to end. The 23 year old celebration in Olympia lost a couple key volunteers this year, but gained dozens more after organizers put out a community-wide request for help.

Sunny weather with rainbows galore graced the parade, youth talent show, drag queen entertainment and dozens of supportive GLBTQ non-profit organization booths in Sylvester Park today.

Above: Romeo Jay Jacinto of Olympia, right, was the winner of Pride Idol 2013, singing Macklemore's "Same Love" with Christina Brewer. Later, he said it was his first time on a big stage, and that he sang the song for GLBTQ allies.
Above: Drag queen "Miss Mirage A Trois" of Olympia sings Demi Lavato's "Heart Attack"
At the Mpowerment Olympia group table, Daniel Bumbarger, 25, handed out safe sex kits and materials. He is upset about the cuts to HIV/AIDS prevention funding in Thurston County. Mpowerment Olympia volunteers organize and participate in many positive social activities and hand out about 1,000 safe sex kits per month at community events, colleges, clubs, bars, and clinics.

"No funding outside of the funding bubbles (of King, Pierce and Snohomish County) is ridiculous...I mean, I understand why they are doing it, but people to people connections are far more useful than any advertising campaign, particularly with youth. We've been so oversaturated with that - it doesn't affect us anymore."

Bumbarger has been involved with Mpowerment Olympia since November of 2011 and appreciates the group. "I think I get as much out of it as I put into it. It's the social stuff, yeah, but it also gives us the skills to do our own programs, and trains us to be leaders in our own lives...I came here from central Pennsylvania. This is my first group of friends - people aren't afraid of being themselves here."

Noel Coley, 20, agreed. Coley has been involved with Mpowerment Olympia for a year.

"I like helping educate men. I feel like a leader. I honestly don't know how it's all going to go - it's going to be pretty crazy until we find some (funding) stabilization. I feel a real sense of community with Mpowerment, a sense of belonging, and I'm helping the community too." 

Both young men were present later in the evening, volunteering at the Red Ribbon Prevention Gayla held at the Urban Onion Ballroom. The event was held to raise funds for HIV prevention services in Thurston County. A silent auction, a raffle, and a dessert dash all raised a significant amount of money. Organizers were thrilled.

"The support has been breathtaking...All of you have changed the future of prevention. After July 1st, there will be HIV testing!" said Justin Taylor, Mpowerment Olympia coordinator and HIV/AIDS prevention coordinator for the Pierce County AIDS Foundation. Taylor received a leadership award at the event for his four years of dedication to the Mpowerment Olympia group.

"He built this program from the ground up," said Matthew Shrader, chair of the Mpowerment Advisory Committee.

Above: Matthew Schrader, left, and Justin Taylor at tonight's Red Ribbon Gayla.

Above: In honor of the late Tumwater City Councilmember Ed Stanley, Capital City Pride Parade Marshal Roger Cummings, left, presents Matthew Shrader, Chair of the Mpowerment Advisory Committee, a check for $1000 to the Pierce County AIDS Foundation to go toward local HIV/AIDS prevention activities. 
Community donations will be needed on an ongoing basis to continue free HIV/AIDS testing and other HIV/AIDS prevention activities. For more information, go to or Mpowerment Olympia is located at 317 4th Avenue East, 4th floor, Olympia, (360) 352-2375. No-cost, rapid and confidential HIV testing is on Fridays 12:00 p.m. - 5 p.m. and by appointment.
To help with next year's Capital City Pride, go to