Celebrating Diversity: The Rise of Snovalley Pride

A vibrant and welcoming community is blossoming in the heart of the picturesque Snoqualmie Valley, fostering inclusivity, acceptance, and celebration.

Snovalley Pride, a community-driven organization that promotes LGBTQ+ visibility, safety, and connection, is making significant strides in transforming this rural area into a beacon of diversity and unity.

The Inception of Snovalley Pride

Greg Jamiel, the founder of Snovalley Pride, who was born in Rhode Island and moved west 22 years ago, initiated this movement with a clear vision: to create safe, inclusive, and joyous spaces for the LGBTQ+ community in the Snoqualmie Valley.

His extensive and diverse professional background working in design, marketing and branding in television, including winning three Emmy Awards, owning two yoga studios in Portland, OR, teaching yoga around the world, and helping people through traditional ceremonies, provided him with the tools and experience to catapult this vision into a tremendous reality.

Reflecting on the impetus behind starting Snovalley Pride, Greg shares, “Last year, we saw an unprecedented number of anti-trans, anti-drag, and anti-LGBTQ+ bills proposed across the country. I felt overwhelmed, disgusted, and like I could do nothing to make an impact. But I quickly realized I could make a difference right here where my feet touch the earth in my community.”

Living in the Snoqualmie Valley, while beautiful and healing, lacked spaces for queer people and allies to connect. Greg’s vision was to create fun, safe, and interesting activities that would appeal to the entire community, fostering closer relationships and a more inclusive environment.

“When all people in a town are living to their fullest potential, sharing the gifts they were born with, their diverse perspectives and personal histories… the entire town is affected by that. It becomes richer, diverse, creative, and a better place to enjoy life. When certain members are made to feel like they need to hide aspects of themselves to survive, the overall Spirit of the community is hindered, and it doesn’t live up to its full potential. We can’t afford to waste any potential at this point. We all have to bring our best to the table for the wellness of our entire community.”

A Year of Milestones and Memorable Events

The Grand Debut: The First Pride Picnic

The journey began with three sold-out Trivia Nights at Miller’s and then the grand debut of their Pride Picnic in June of last year, which was a resounding success. Greg reminisces, “The Picnic last year was amazing. You could feel this fantastic energy of welcomeness, inclusion, and safety. It was really super sweet and beautiful.”

The atmosphere was so wholesome that one attendee humorously remarked about sneaking wine in but not needing to drink it because the event’s positive vibe was intoxicating enough. This picnic set the tone for the future of Snovalley Pride, highlighting the community’s joyous and hopeful spirit.

Expanding Horizons: Fun, Educational and Healing Events

Following the picnic’s success, Snovalley Pride organized a series of drag shows, educational events, and healing events. Their Drag Shows have become some of their portfolio’s most exhilarating, fun, and uplifting events. They also partnered with the GSBA to offer free educational workshops about LGBTQ+ and Ally topics. Healing is a core value for Snovalley Pride, and in November, they welcomed an incredibly honored guest to share healing teachings with the community.

Greg recalls, “In November, we had an amazing night of healing. Healing is a huge part of what we offer and do because our community needs it—not just our LGBTQ+ community but our entire Valley community. We were grateful to host a Native American Chief who shared the Navajo Two Spirit creation story. It was an absolutely beautiful and moving evening.”

The Power of Resilience: A Community United

One of the most poignant moments in Snovalley Pride’s journey occurred when they requested the City of Carnation to hang pride flags. Initially met with hesitation about how businesses would respond, the community’s overwhelming support was evident when all but two businesses agreed to display pride flags.

Greg describes the incident, “There was a time last year when 18 flags were flying, which was beautiful. Then, someone came through and pulled them all down. But the thing about that is our LGBTQ+ community has experienced these cowardly acts our entire lives. We have grown up with this and have become stronger every time. Resiliency is huge in our community.”

The resilience of Carnation shone through when, within an hour, two families voluntarily replaced all the flags and added more! This act of solidarity demonstrated the strength and inclusivity present in Carnation and the Valley, emphasizing that the voices of love and acceptance far outweigh those of hate and ignorance.

Spotlight on the Second Annual Pride Picnic

Snovalley Pride is delighted to announce the return of its highly anticipated event, the Second Annual Pride Picnic, which will take place on Sunday, June 9th, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Tolt Commons in Carnation, WA. Building on the success of last year’s inaugural picnic, this year promises an even more vibrant celebration of diversity, inclusion, and community spirit.

This year, attendees can look forward to an afternoon filled with live music, great food, relaxation, connection, and various arts and crafts to suit all ages and interests.

Guests are encouraged to bring their blankets, picnic baskets, snacks, and camp chairs to settle in for a delightful brunch picnic amidst the picturesque surroundings of Tolt Commons. They can enjoy a range of festivities, including lawn games, free craft booths, and the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals within the community. The event will feature live music performances by talented artists, including Stephanie Anne Johnson, Elizabeth Hill and the Valley Folk, Xander Corbett and Bilee Grace, ensuring a festive atmosphere throughout the day.

Moreover, the picnic will emphasize the importance of community support and collaboration. Local organizations such as Mosaic Montessori, Treehouse Point, King County Libraries of Carnation & Duvall, and others will host craft activities, allowing attendees to create mementos of the day. “Each organization at the Picnic will offer a craft you can come and make for free,” Greg explains. “And, thanks to the generous donation from Montessori Children’s House and Carnation Cafe, you can enjoy complimentary catered food from Carnation Cafe, with vegan options.”

In addition to these engaging activities, Snovalley Pride will sell customized T-shirts, thanks to a partnership with Camp Makae. This initiative ensures that attendees can personalize their shirts on-site, further adding to the sense of community and individuality that the event celebrates.

The Pride Picnic is more than just a gathering; it’s a testament to the community’s strength, support, and resilience. Jamiel encourages everyone to join in the festivities, saying, “We invite everyone to join us for a day of love, acceptance, and connection as we come together to celebrate the beauty of our community in a place we are so lucky to call home…the Snoqualmie Valley.”

For more information on the Pride Picnic and to stay updated on Snovalley Pride’s activities, visit snovalleypride.com and follow them on social media @snovalleypride on Facebook and Instagram. This event is free and open to the public, welcoming individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and identities to unite in a spirit of celebration and solidarity.

Along with the Pride Picnic, Greg is particularly excited about the upcoming 80s-themed drag show on June 21 at Miller’s. This event will feature an 80s fashion show “contest” and promises a night of fun, nostalgia, and community bonding. “Our Fierce Drag Shows have quickly sold out every time and are events where guests can sing, laugh, dance, and have an amazing time with great people. Even our Queens express how much they love coming to the Valley for these events! They were shocked at how welcoming everyone is, and these are now some of their favorite shows to perform at!”

Moreover, Snovalley Pride plans to expand its reach into the upper Snoqualmie Valley, bringing its community-building events to new venues and involving more local businesses and organizations. The goal is to create a network of safe spaces and continue offering high-quality entertainment and educational opportunities.

Building Bridges: Collaboration and Support

Collaboration with local businesses and organizations has been instrumental in Snovalley Pride’s success. By partnering with entities like the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) and various local Chambers, Snovalley Pride has supported businesses that realize that being a welcoming and safe place is really good for business. Their website has a safe space directory, promoting inclusive spaces and creating a network of allies.

Greg emphasizes the importance of community support, “What we continue to hear around the Valley is that people want to feel safe, seen and welcome where they live. They want their children to grow up in small towns where they can be themselves and be kids. Creating an atmosphere of acceptance and support does just that. Love, acceptance, inclusion, a connection to nature, and being friendly to your neighbors are some of the values many of us who live in the Valley want to protect.”

The Road Ahead: Challenges and Hope

Despite the progress, challenges remain. Negative sentiments and resistance from certain quarters continue to pose obstacles. However, the community’s response has been overwhelmingly positive, and there is a growing sense that divisive rhetoric is fading away.

Greg reflects on the changing attitudes, “I feel like we are maturing, our country is maturing, and you’re seeing these things come up that we as a people are like, well, we’re not gonna accept this anymore. We will evolve, learn, grow, and choose to be nicer and more accepting of our neighbors. And that’s a great thing! But with that comes resistance to change and evolution. It’s what you see in nature, and it’s what you see in us. And we all know what happens in nature when things refuse to evolve.”

The journey of Snovalley Pride is a testament to the power of community, resilience, and the enduring spirit of love and acceptance. As the organization continues to grow, it remains committed to its mission of creating a safe, inclusive, and joyous environment for the LGBTQ+ community in the Snoqualmie Valley. Snovalley Pride is a shining example of what can be achieved when a community comes together with a shared vision of inclusivity and celebration. Greg says, “Our community is open, inclusive, welcoming, celebratory, and happy. We are just trying to enjoy our precious lives!”

Snovalley Pride is a fiscally sponsored project of A Supportive Community For All. For those interested in supporting or getting involved with Snovalley Pride, visit their website at snovalleypride.com and follow them on social media @snovalleypride on Facebook and Instagram. Together, we can continue to build a community where everyone feels safe, seen, appreciated, and celebrated.

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