Happy (Queer) West Virginia Day!
Every year on West Virginia Day, people from around the Mountain State come together to celebrate the state’s history, accomplishments, and heritage. This year, we’d like to pay tribute to a few of the countless people, institutions, and organizations who are doing great things for the LGBTQ+ community around West Virginia.
Lost River, West Virginia (located in rural Hardy County) is a major travel destination for the queer community in DC and elsewhere. Despite its rural setting, queer people are welcomed with open arms to spaces like the Guesthouse Lost River, which has served as a safe space for gay vacationers for over thirty years. The New York Times once referred to Lost River as “the Provincetown of the Potomac” – we tend to agree. (Photo courtesy of USA Lifestyle Real Estate.)
West Virginia University’s Commission for LGBTQ Equity celebrated the achievements of its LGBTQ+ graduates with its first lavender graduation ceremony this past spring. Student participants received certificates and rainbow cords, and were given the opportunity to personally thank those who have been particularly supportive throughout their time at the University.
Queer people from around West Virginia gathered in Charleston on June 6 to celebrate, as well as to raise awareness of issues faced by the queer community. Complete with a Miss Pride drag competition and a “Big Gay Dog Show”, West Virginia’s 2015 Pride celebration was one for the ages.
When Michael Martin came out last year, he was a little nervous. The recent Musselman High School graduate grew up in a rural community, but was determined to honor his own identity despite the possible implications. Several months later, Martin and boyfriend Logan Westrope attended his senior prom together. Despite a bit of initial trepidation, the evening went off without a hitch. Kudos to both young men for their strength and bravery.
5. Same sex marriage
Last July, in a landmark decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, West Virginia’s ban on gay marriage was deemed unconstitutional. Fast forward 11 months, and same-sex couples from around the state are finally able to access their long-fought right to marry the person of their choice, regardless of gender. Although there’s still plenty of work to be done, there so, so much to celebrate.
6. The West Virginia Gay and Lesbian Community Center in Beckley
There’s a storm of LGBTQ positivity brewing, and it’s settled in the hills of Beckley, West Virginia. The West Virginia Gay and Lesbian Community Center, founded in 2014, is working to alleviate disparities often experienced by queer people, including but not limited to: homelessness, HIV infection, and discrimination and bullying in public schools. The Center’s work is a vital contribution to the fight for equality across platforms in West Virginia.
Wherever you are, take a moment to celebrate the queer West Virginians who work each day to make our state a more tolerant and equitable space.