PHOTOS: Community Dinner Kicks off Casper Pride Week
It was a room full of people of all shapes, sizes, beliefs and life experiences. They sat together. They broke bread together. They laughed together. Most importantly, they learned about each other.
The Community Dinner, sponsored by the Wyoming Food for Thought Project, United Church of Christ and, of course, Casper Pride, took place Wednesday night and featured a plethora of people eating, laughing, learning, and loving.
"Tonight's event is pretty simple," said Dee Lundberg, pastor of the United Church of Christ. "There is no agenda. This is as much of the agenda as there is. It's just welcoming everybody to this week and hoping you get fired up about it. There are so many cool things going on, you could be going 24/7."
Lundberg then went on to speak about the church of which she pastors, saying that it's a place for anybody who has even been 'burned' by other religious institutes.
"Church is different for us," she stated. "It's really just about knowing how many people have been damaged by church, who may by cynical about church. And because of the treatment that the LGBTQ+ community has faced over the years, [we want to say] 'that's not who we are.'"
Lundberg stated that she wanted her church to be the 'welcome wagon' for those who are seeking, as evidenced by events like the community dinner.
"Everybody is family," she said. "You're beautiful just the way you are. And that's really all I have to say. Welcome. Welcome to part of your family. And for those of you that are kind of new to this, I know there are some young folks in the back, always know that there is always different people, in businesses, in churches, in organizations, in non-profits, that have your back. We're going to be there for ya."
One of those non-profits is the Wyoming Food for Thought Project. The organization rented out their space for the evening free of charge, and also provided fresh produce for a huge salad that was served alongside various types of pastas and sauces.
The dinner was also a designated sober event, which speaks even more to the idea of inclusion.
"One thing that I'm really proud we were able to pull off is a free community dinner," said Mallory Pollock, Chair of Casper Pride. "We didn't want money to be a barrier for anyone. It's also a designated sober event, so there won't be alcohol at that one, which I think makes space for the people for whom alcohol isn't their thing."
And, really, that's what Pollock said Casper Pride is all about- making space for people. It isn't about fighting or arguing or aggravating; it's about making space for people who, for many, have never felt like they had a place at the table.
On Wednesday, everybody had a place at the table.