Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Goal: Acceptance, Respect for All ; Event Set for Saturday in NOTO Arts District

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Goal: Acceptance, Respect for All ; Event Set for Saturday in NOTO Arts District

Article excerpt

They come from different backgrounds.

A drag queen who loves to perform but describes himself as an introvert.

Two high school students and two reverends who preach acceptance.

A mother who wants her children to grow up in a community of love, and a man who works on social justice issues.

A transgender woman, and a 29-year-old gay man struggling to find his place in the world.

They come together for one common goal: to unite the community in love and understanding through the 2014 Topeka Pride event, which is slated for Sept. 6 in the NOTO Arts District.

Challenging hate

Topeka has long been known as the capital city of Kansas. But, for decades, it also has been known as the home of the Westboro Baptist Church.

The Topeka Pride organizers began meeting about three months ago in an small room at Central Congregational United Church of Christ, 1248 S.W. Buchanan.

They don't want to fight hate with hate, said Kimberly Daugherty, a mother of two. They want to challenge it with love.

"I want to raise my 3- and 6-year-olds in a community of love," Daugherty said.

Matthew Frye, 29, moved back to his hometown of Topeka a few months ago. He had spent several years in Minnesota.

As a boy, Frye couldn't fathom telling his parents he was gay. It wasn't until after he was out of high school that he came out to his family. Often, Frye said, he has felt alone.

Frye helped organize a Pride event in Minnesota, and when he learned some Topekans were trying to revive Pride in the capital city, he jumped on board. He has met new faces and forged new friendships.

"I'm excited," Frye said. "I hope the event is successful. I just want a safe community where kids can grow up and be themselves. I didn't really understand who I was, why I was different."

Topeka Pride was incorporated as a nonprofit and soon will become a 501c3 organization, said Stephanie Mott, a transgender woman living in Topeka.

This isn't a one-time event, organizers said. They plan to make Topeka Pride bigger and better each year.

"This is a community Pride event," Mott said. "We are part of the community. Topeka is moving forward and becoming a city where everyone is treated with dignity and respect."

Reviving Pride

Two Topeka teenagers are helping the group revive Pride.

Alex Reid, 16, is a student at Topeka West High School and recently started a Gay-Straight Alliance at the school, he said. The group is planning a booth at Topeka Pride, and students have volunteered to help out at the event.

Reid got involved after noticing something: "Every town has Pride, except Topeka," he said.

KT Neismith, 15, is helping out because she wants to see her school, Seaman High School, become more accepting, she said. …

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