[Vision2020] Rainbow symbols of welcome created by local group

Moscow Cares moscowcares at moscow.com
Sat Jul 1 03:31:06 PDT 2017

Courtesy of today's (July 1, 2017) Moscow-Pullman Daily News.


Rainbow symbols of welcome created by local group
PFLAG Moscow wants to build a directory of LGBTQ supportive businesses

Some small symbols of change began appearing in windows of downtown businesses this past week.

The colorful signs, emblazoned with the words "welcoming and affirming," might not seem like much to some, but to others they are everything; they announce that the establishment is an ally of the LGBTQ community and a member of the Rainbow Directory.

The directory was created by PFLAG Moscow, a group dedicated to offering "support and education for parents, families, friends, allies and LGBTQ people through the advocacy of equal rights." It is one of 400 PFLAG chapters that spans the United States, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

According to its website, PFLAG National was founded in 1972 by a mother looking to support her gay son, and it is now the nation's largest family and ally organization for the LGBTQ community.

Maggie Rehm, one of PFLAG Moscow's six board members, said the chapter was created after she and her future colleagues saw a PFLAG Coeur d'Alene table at the Palouse Pride Festival in August 2014.

"A few of us just thought, 'Wow, this is great, we need this in Moscow,' " Rehm said.

The group received its official charter, she said, in January 2015.

Rehm said the organization had toyed with the idea of putting together a directory of LGBTQ-friendly businesses since it originated, but that the project didn't really get its start until the fall of 2016 when the group received a $2,000 grant from the Moscow Giving Circle.

There are similar directories popping up around the country, she said, and there is at least one other in southern Idaho.

"It's just nice to know that when you're going into a business or a shop that as a member of the LGBTQIA-plus community you're going to be treated like a human being and valued as such," Rehm said.

To bring the trend to the northern part of the state, Rehm said the chapter advertised at last year's Pride Festival that it was looking for artists to design a decal for the project. There were two conditions: it must include the words "welcoming and affirming" and some form of a rainbow.

They took submissions through that fall, and after some time, decided on a design by Kate Fox-Amato, a local graphic artist.

During this period, Rehm said the group also sent a number of flyers to every business on the Moscow Chamber of Commerce's list as well as promoting the decal - and what it stands for - through social media and word of mouth.

To join, she said the business must first sign a contract saying that they will continue to promote an environment that values the safety, dignity and equal treatment of all people regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race and religion, and display the decal in their window.

PFLAG Moscow unveiled its first three businesses last Friday, June 23, on their Facebook page - Safari Pearl Comics, One World Café and Tye Dye Everything.

Safari Pearl Comics co-owner Tabitha Simmons said she and other co-owner, Kathy Sprague, joined the directory because they've always believed in creating a business atmosphere that is accepting of all people, and anything less than that isn't tolerated. The decal is a way to codify that already existing tenet, she said.

"My partner and I were the first couple to be married in Idaho," Simmons said. "It was only natural that we be one of the first businesses to join up."

As a member of Moscow's LGBTQ community, Simmons said it is important for spaces like this to exist. She hopes her business can convince others to join and recognize the importance of the project - a sentiment Arlene Falcon echoed.

Both, Simmons and Falcon, said they are hopeful that the directory can work to create a stronger, more respectful community not only for its LGBTQ members, but for all.

"The project is going to do exactly what the stickers promise; it's going to state publicly that this is a welcoming and affirming community," Rehm said. "Therefore, it's going to make people feel welcome and feel valued in their full humanity."

Since their initial reveal, Rehm said the chapter has received a number of requests from other companies looking to join the campaign, and that Hyperspud and Palouse Women's Wellness committed this week.

Those interested in being a member of the directory or of the group can contact the organization directly through its Facebook page.

Eventually, Rehm said she'd like to see rainbow stickers all over the Palouse as an ever-increasing reminder of support.


One World Cafe is one of the first five local businesses displaying a "Welcoming and Affirming" sticker from PFLAG Moscow's Rainbow Directory.



Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho
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