Op-Ed: Pride decorations stolen from Center for Human Services (CHS)

Sunday, June 25, 2023

By Beretta Gomillion, Executive Director CHS

Earlier this month, CHS staff and supporters decorated the trees and reader-board in front of our building at 17018 15th Ave NE in Shoreline as part of our celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride Month. 

Sometime during the weekend of June 16, 2023 person or persons unknown stole all of the decorations. 

Some of the Pride decorations at CHS. All were stolen.
Photo courtesy CHS

While we were certainly disappointed that anyone would do such as thing, we want it to be known that we remain open and affirming to all people and are proud to celebrate Pride with our LGBTQ+ staff, clients, and community.

A disproportionate number of LGBTQ+ people experience mental health struggles. Young people across King County and the country are facing increasingly difficult mental health challenges, and young people who are in underserved communities, including LGBTQ+ people, face even greater challenges. 

According to King County’s Healthy Youth Survey, LGBTQ+ young people have an urgent need for mental health supports, with higher rates of suicidal ideation and attempts, and depression. 

Personal, family, and social acceptance of sexual orientation and gender identity affects the mental health and personal safety of LGBT+ individuals. 

Against the backdrop of societal harassment, discrimination, and violence, the fact that so many LGBTQ+ persons survive and thrive is a testament to their resilience.

The decorations were only up for a little over a week, but it was worth our effort. During that time, a young man with Down’s Syndrome saw our pride flags and other decorations and came in to talk to someone. 

He stated that he feels so alone and doesn’t have the support of his family. He said that seeing our decorations made him feel safe and seen and that was something he was not accustomed to in his life. 

Making at least one person feel supported and safe was worth the anguish the theft caused.

CHS affirms our obligation to promote the dignity of all people and dedicate ourselves to be a welcoming and safe place for everyone.

-Beratta Gomillion is the Executive Director of the Center for Human Services, located in Shoreline


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