(Kaye Crawford submitted this story, with her permission to publish it on RenoTahoe.About.com.)
I'm Kaye Crawford and this is my story.
In the early 90s, to be gay in Reno meant to be discreet, to hide, in fear of recognition. My beloved friend, Bill Metz, was murdered simply because he was gay. At his heartbreaking candlelight vigil I had a vision. A dream that some day, it would be okay to be gay.
I was 50 years old when I moved to Reno with my 14 year old son. During our first year in Reno, my faith kept me going when he was run over by a bottle-water truck that nearly killed him and put him in a coma. It was faith that encouraged me to step out of the closet and faith that kept me going through tears of frustration after repeatedly hearing "No, it can't be done. We can't go public in Reno. We can't help you!"
The first year that I stood up for equality, I was fired from a job where I was highly respected, after seven years of dedicated service in a high-profile company. I lost two more jobs after I went public in the active role of launching a celebration for the LGBT community.
In 1997 I started the first Gay Pride Festival in Reno, and now the gay community can boast of the freedom to be who you are after 14 years of pride celebrations that helped to bring changes of attitudes through education and exposure. The theme of our first parade in 1999 was "Step off the curb, and March for Freedom."
Why do we celebrate? Because, today, we can. We are a social species, ready to take a day off to join with family and friends. Reno Rainbow Fest focuses on the complete family bringing the entire community together for a time to socialize and have fun.
My favorite saying is, "I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something, and what I can do, I ought to do, and by the grace of God, I WILL DO IT."