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'We are sacred together': Diné Pride Cruise celebrates Pride Month on Navajo Nation

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

WINDOW ROCK, Arizona — Krystle Headley wrote "love" in large blue letters on the back window of her vehicle while her sister, Nicole Begay, held the bisexual community's pride flag they taped to the back door.

Ideally, when the flag flies then people will see the word, Begay explained before the start of the Diné Pride Cruise on June 26 in Window Rock.

Diné Pride and Diné Equality, organizations that advocate for equal rights and protections for the Diné LGBTQ community, arranged the cruise by vehicle to celebrate Pride Month and to honor health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus fight.

The sisters had their reasons for joining the cruise, which adhered to public health orders for participants to wear masks and to social distance when outside vehicles.

Diné Pride Operations Director Curtis Berry attaches a Diné Pride sign to the bummer of his vehicle before the Diné Pride Cruise starts on June 26 in Window Rock, Arizona.

"For me, it's because I'm part of the community," Begay said.

"For me, it's to support my sister. She wanted to do it, so I said OK, let's go," Headley said.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Diné Pride and Diné Equality cancelled the annual in-person Pride celebration for the Indigenous LGBTQ and two-spirited community and held virtual events.

The organizations promoted the Diné Pride Cruise on Facebook, calling for participants to meet in the parking lot at Bashas' Diné Market then proceed through the Window Rock and Fort Defiance area.

Adoncia James decorates her family's truck before the Diné Pride Cruise on June 26 in Window Rock, Arizona.

"This is the first-ever event of its kind for the Navajo Nation where our people had an opportunity to show their Diné Pride during this shared experience of COVID-19. Though we may not be together physically, we can still acknowledge our Diné LGBTQ+ family members and say proudly that we are sacred together," Diné Equality Founder Alray Nelson said.

Lori Howard is an LGBTQ advocate and worked at the LGBTQ Resource Center at the University of New Mexico's Gallup Branch.

Howard said she identifies as bisexual and her parents understand her identity, but, through her work at the resource center, she interacted with students who did not receive similar support from their families.

"When I worked for the LGBTQ Resource Center, I noticed a lot of families disowned a lot of the students. It made me sad because I never experienced that. My family is always there, and it helped me … and I'm thankful for that," Howard said.

A rainbow of scarves decorates a car in the Diné Pride Cruise on June 26 in Window Rock, Arizona.

She added that events like the Diné Pride Cruise acknowledge the LGBTQ community on the Navajo Nation.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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