Rallying around the rally 

An ineffectual local petition against this month’s Montana Pride Celebration in Kalispell has proven to be little more than a nuisance for the event’s organizers. In fact, organizers say the protest stands in stark contrast to the city’s otherwise overwhelming support of the annual three-day bash, which begins June 19.

That support doesn’t sit well with Kalispell resident Barry Brubaker.

“I heard about it and God put the desire on my heart and I just cried out, ‘No. Not in our city,’” he says. “They’re out there portraying that this is right when actually God calls it wrong. Someone had to stand up against it.”

As soon as he heard of the celebration, Brubaker circulated a petition asking the Kalispell City Council to pull the event’s permit. He says he has “300 or 400” signatures of people who agree with him.

Myrt Webb, Kalispell’s interim city manager, says the celebration will go on no matter how many signatures Brubaker collects.

“In this situation, I think it is clear that Mr. Brubaker has a little too much going on upstairs,” says Mija Howlett, who sits on the board of the Western Montana Gay and Lesbian Community Center, the Montana Two-Spirit Society and the Pride Network Celebration. “Kalispell is a supportive community, which is one of the reasons the pride committee chose to have it there. The local businesses, people and churches support our celebration.”

In June 2008, the Montana Human Rights Network conducted a poll that showed 87 percent of Montanans believe “no one should be discriminated against in the workplace solely because they are lesbian or gay,” and 91 percent agreed “gay or lesbian people should not be subjected to threats or intimidation.”

“Some people say they are fine with [the celebration] but say we shouldn’t be able to ‘flaunt’ it,” Howlett says. “But I have heterosexism [the assumption that everyone is straight] thrown in my face hundreds of times a day. I deserve a day to sing, throw glitter and show people that I love who I am.”
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