This story was originally going to be about how the rainbow crosswalks in town were getting spruced up. However, I thought it more important to talk about how you can be involved and show your support for the LGBTQ community regardless of whether or not events will be virtual.

Reported by Wood TV News Channel 8, crews were touching up the rainbow crosswalks at the corner of Rose and W. South streets. Originally, the crosswalk was painted in 2018 as symbol to the LGBTQ community of Kalamazoo that they were welcomed and supported.

Amy Hunter, the executive director of Out Front Kalamazoo, a local advocacy group, said to Wood TV,

It’s important to recognize the community. It’s important to recognize the organization. We’re an integral thread in this community and it’s our way of making sure the community knows we’re still here.

With Pride events going virtual for 2021 once again because of the pandemic I thought it important to share how you can still be involved and still show support for the LGBTQ community.

I don't know about you but, I've been feeling incredibly disconnected from all communities in general. Yes, it has a lot to do with me being relatively new to the area but the pandemic has created a unique obstacle that makes it very easy to feel isolated. As a straight woman I will not speak towards the experience of those in the LGBTQ community. However, I can imagine and understand that if someone were in an environment where being gay or bisexual or queer wasn't acceptable...they may feel even more isolated. And personally, one of my goals in life is to make sure that the people around me feel perfectly free being who they are.

Out Front Kalamazoo, as mentioned above, is an advocacy group here in Kalamazoo which will be hosting the virtual pride events for 2021. You can see the full schedule here.

However, Pride Month is about so much more than celebrations. There are real ways that you or I can show our support. Out Front Kalamazoo has a lot of suggestions.

1. Educate Yourself.

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Out Front Kalamazoo offers programs for in-office, professional training or speaker panels where members of the LGBTQ community share their experiences. Either way, content is focused towards creating inclusive work environments, intersectionality, and clearing up myths and stereotypes surrounding the LGBTQ community. Find all the details on training here.

2. Volunteer

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While in-person volunteer opportunities are limited for the time being eventually help will be needed at events or in the office. You can find more details on volunteering here.

3. Do some shopping! 

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Whether you need new items for your wardrobe, items for your pets, electronics...you can usually find an organization contributing a portion of their sales to local organizations. That, of course, applies to LGBTQ organizations as well. In fact, Out Front Kalamazoo has their own shop which you can find here.

The above information may be sourced from Out Front Kalamazoo but keep in mind...you can do this anywhere. There are plenty of organizations that need volunteers or could benefit from a portion of what your spending on that new jacket (calling myself out on that one).

Above all, the most important thing we can do is be a safe place. And sometimes that's as simple as just reminding people that you love them just the way they are. ❤️

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