Unalaska is celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride for the first time. The island has joined thousands of cities around the world honoring their LGBT communities.
There aren't many queer people in Unalaska, but that didn’t phase 15-year-old Gilmar Tapaoan. He decided it was time for the city to have a Pride celebration.
“Sure we can’t do a Pride parade because we don’t have enough people yet," Tapaoan said. "I think it was just seeing people [around the world] were doing Pride. I wanted to do it here.”
He settled on a potluck at a local park. Tapaoan is standing by a grill near the community softball field. Music is blasting as a handful of people wait for hamburgers and hotdogs.
“It’s all about relaxing," he said. "Chilling with friends. Celebrating that we’re out, we’re proud, and we’re going to stay here.”
Tapaoan is the only openly gay boy on the island. He says while coming out as a seventh grader was hard, he’s growing more confident in his identity.
Listening to Tapaoan, Erin Enlow gets teary eyed.
“It brings me so much joy that you can be you now and not feel like you have to hide. Because hiding who you are is very painful,” Enlow said.
Enlow came out as an adult. The two agree, Pride is about being comfortable in your own skin.
“I just want people to know that it's ok to be out," Tapaoan said. "No matter what you classify yourself as, there is always going to be a community welcoming you with open arms and they can be your chosen family.”
Although only a handful of people showed up for the potluck, Tapaoan believes this is the beginning of annual island tradition.
He’s keeping his fingers crossed that soon there will be enough people for a parade.