In the early morning hours of Friday, June 28th, an unidentified man was caught on surveillance camera in connection with the attempted arson fire at the Las Vegas Gay and Lesbian Community Center, the investigation is ongoing as officials suspect that this individual was targeting the Stonewall banner that hangs in front of the entrance to the center, fortunately no one was injured and the only damage was the burning of a palm tree located to the right of the entrance. In the days before this incident a letter was mailed to the center containing a swastika and a voicemail was left expressing outrage that the gay pride rainbow flag was being flown alongside the American flag at various locations in the city. It has not been determined if these two incidents are connected to the attempted arson at the center. Of course, this is cause for concern in our community as any threat or sign of hatred would be. Equally disturbing is that on the eve of World Pride in NYC commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, our community is still faced with threats from those who wish us harm with hatred and violence. Although our community is resilient, it must be a priority within our circles to remain aware and to stay vigilant as we navigate the rising tide of hatred, for every victory towards equality is met with an equal rebuttal of defeat stemmed in hatred. We remain hopeful in our goal of living in a world where all of us enjoy equal rights in marriage, employment, housing and education. When the forces of hatred and oppression threaten our community, we close ranks and we organize, let each of us not forget that, together we stand, divided we fall.
It was a testament to our community that despite this attempted act of hatred and violence, the Gay and Lesbian Center’s Family Pride BBQ was held as planned on Saturday June 29th to great success. Many guests attended with their children in tow to play games, experience the bounce house and play in the water games area complete with a large rainbow unicorn that sprouted water. Inside the main room of the facility, guests dined on hamburgers, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw and watermelon salad while a joyous deejay donned costumes to entertain the kids as he danced to the old school hits that he spun on his turntable. Many community partners including GLSEN, PFLAG, Las Vegas Pride and Equality Nevada set up booths to communicate and promote their services to patrons of the event. As I walked around the event and spoke with friends and engaged in conversation with people I had never met before, I was comforted by the feeling that despite adversity our community comes together and prevails. For just outside the center, a scarred palm tree wrapped in rainbow ribbons serves as a reminder that our community will persevere and will not go quietly into that good night.