Out Boulder County’s Pride motorcades honor LGBTQ advocates in local government with the title of Grand Marshal.
Instead of separate celebrations in Longmont and Boulder, Out Boulder County, or OBC, is traveling with a day of motorcades. Riding at the head of the parade will be the four Grand Marshals, honoring the work that government officials in Boulder County have done for LGBTQ inclusion and visibility.
This year's marshals are Longmont City Manager Harold Dominguez, former Boulder County Clerk Clela Rorex, Lafayette’s Mayor Jamie Harkins and City Administrator Fritz Sprague.
“We wanted to honor leaders who had made the LGBTQ+ community feel safe and included,” said Mardi Moore, executive director of OBC.
Each of the selected marshals are either active allies for the LGBTQ+ community, or open members of the community themselves, according to Moore.
Dominguez is representing Longmont. Moore spoke highly of Dominguez, citing his work for advocacy and inclusion in Longmont, including inviting the LGTBQ community to lend their voice to the selection of a new Public Safety Chief.
“Harold is one of those unsung people, the people behind the door doing the work. He speaks well for the LGBTQ community in every meeting,” Moore said. “He’s someone we have the utmost respect for and we really wanted to honor his work for underserved communities.”
“It was obvious that we had to pick Clela Rorex,” Moore said. “She’s a legend. Rorex issued the first same-sex marriage license and has been an active ally ever since.”
Rorex made history in 1975, issuing the first same-sex marriage license while serving as Boulder County Clerk. Her efforts laid the groundwork for future marriage equality and earned the Boulder County Courthouse a place in the National Register of Historic Places.
“Being selected as a Grand Marshal for the Pride Parade is a new experience for me, and I am honored to be selected,” Rorex said in a press release. “Most of all, I am hoping allies for the LGBTQ community will line the curbs as the car parade passes by, to show their support for a community that still faces many challenges.”
Harkins and Sprague are both civic leaders in Lafayette and are both openly LGBTQ. Harkins is the first out lesbian to serve as Lafayette’s mayor.
“I am so incredibly humbled to play a part in this year's pride festivities right here in Lafayette,” Harkins said in a press release. “As our city's first openly gay council member and now first mayor, I take very seriously what that means for the LGBTQ community and want to provide that visibility for queer community members, especially young folks. Often if feels like we've achieved a level of equality that something like being the first openly gay mayor, or Colorado's only current gay mayor, doesn't need to be recognized, but the truth is we're not there yet … I am so proud to be out and proud and in a leadership position … and lend the platform I've been given to fighting for equal rights.”
According to UCLA’s Williams Institute, 4.5% of the US population and 4.6% of Colorado’s population identified as LGTBQ as of July 2020. The LGBTQ Victory Institute’s 2020 report on LGBTQ representation in government notes that only .17% of elected officials in the US are openly LGBTQ. Colorado’s Governor Jared Polis was the first openly gay governor to be elected in the US.
Having representatives that match the diversity of their constituency, particularly at the local level, can help people feel seen and included in the conversation around policy-making and the welfare of their community.
"When LGTBQ youth know they can embrace their orientations and identities and succeed, their world gets brighter," Moore said. "When LGBTQ people lead, inclusion of all people in policies and laws become real."
“To have an out mayor, and an out city administrator, we really wanted to highlight their success,” Moore said. “Their work heightens the presence of the LGBTQ community in the public eye.”
“We’ve made progress in inclusivity, but more needs to be done. It’s when you back off of something, or slow down and get lax in these areas we lose ground and we just can’t do that. It’s also a key responsibility of people in positions of influence to make sure this doesn’t happen,” Sprague said. “Visibility is so important because it shows the depth and talent those in the LGBTQ community contribute to society as a whole. It’s also so incredibly important to show our youth that there are successful, contributing members of our community in prominent positions that make impactful decisions.”
The motorcade festivities begin June 13 at 9 a.m. in Longmont. The motorcade will leave from Roosevelt Park and proceed south on Main with a police escort. The Boulder motorcade kicks off at 12 p.m. and the day’s events close out with Lafayette’s motorcade at 4 p.m.