Highlands Ranch resident Jim Genasci started going to Pride events with his wife Jean in 1983, when their son Gary came out.
For years, the Genascis traveled across all 50 states and Canada attending Pride parades and rallies. At all of them, Jean collected dozens of buttons. She wore her collection on a sash, and then, when the sash got full, on a cowboy hat.
When Jeanne died about two years ago, Jim asked their longtime friend SJ Light to carry on the tradition of wearing the button-covered sash and cowboy hat to celebrate Pride.
On June 23, Jim celebrated his 39th straight year of Pride with Light and over 100 more friends, families and neighbors at Wind Crest’s 3rd annual parade.
“I haven’t missed one yet,” Jim said.
Light sported the sash and cowboy hat for the parade through the Wind Crest neighborhood and during the afternoon rootbeer float social in honor of her friend.
“I feel that I’m representing Jean in the parade so that even though she’s passed on, she still gets to be in a Pride parade every year, which I know would mean a lot to her,” Light said. “I plan to keep doing it as long as I can.”
Wind Crest’s Pride parade was started by residents and staff on the Diversity Inclusion and Belonging Committees and the Resident Advisory Council. In its third year, the event is popular at Wind Crest, drawing multiple generations to celebrate love and acceptance.
Wind Crest Associate Executive Director Kathy Dilger said part of the living facility’s mission is to promote acceptance and applaud diversity.
“Having a seat at the table, having a voice and having that voice be heard is what we strive for as a community,” Dilger said. “We’re not perfect in that, but we really try to hear people and accept them.”
As the event wrapped up, residents and staff chatted about plans for next year’s parade. Light notes they’ll have to do something special for Jim’s 40th anniversary of Pride.
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