By ALEC CLAYTON for OLY ARTS
Olympia counselor and LGBTQ activist Teresa Guajardo has been selected as this year’s recipient of the prestigious Pride Day Award, given annually for outstanding support and advocacy for the community.
Owner and founder of Rainbow Health Center, Guajardo first became active in support of the LGBTQ community when she was an undergrad at Oregon State from 1991 to 1992. There was a move in Oregon to make it illegal for schools to teach about gay and lesbian issues or, as she puts it, to even mention the words. There was a counter demonstration called the Pink Triangle Campaign. Guajardo had not yet come out as lesbian, but she did come out as a strong supporter of the campaign. She wore the pink triangle — a symbol seldom used nowadays —appropriated from its use in identifying queer people in Nazi Germany and, until the rainbow flag was first flown at a Pride parade in San Francisco in 1978, America’s only gay symbol.
In 1996, Guajardo moved to Olympia and came out as openly gay. Her first involvement with local community activists was with PFLAG. She marched with the PFLAG contingent in Pride parades and sold buttons in support of the organization. It was at a PFLAG picnic that she met her soon-to-be wife, Tina Roose. The couple registered as domestic partners and traveled to Oregon to be married during the time before Oregon’s then equal-marriage law was overturned. In 2012, they campaigned for equal marriage in Washington state, which Governor Christine Gregoire signed into law. As soon as possible after the law went into effect, Guajardo and Roose arranged for themselves and 20 other gay and lesbian couples to be married in multiple ceremonies on the same day in the rotunda of the Capitol in Olympia. Roose said there were couples from about five counties including Thurston, Pierce and King, along with at least 12 officiants including a judge, a priest and ministers of various faiths.
Two years ago, Guajardo bought and renovated a historic house on Fourth Avenue that’s listed on the national registry. They created the Rainbow Health Center, a healing space for non-mainstream clients including gay, lesbian or transgender people, new immigrant families and unaccompanied, refugee minors. Guajardo said of the center, “We are only two years old. We have miles to go.”
Asked what the award means to her, she said, “I haven’t figured it out yet. As a Latinx lesbian I have used every ounce of my life’s privilege to fulfill our personal mission to be warriors for peace and equality.”
Pride Day Award presentation
Heritage Park, Fifth Ave. SW, Olympia
2:45 p.m. Sunday, June 10