Lewis County Pride Dedicated to Murdered Activist Rikkey Outumuro

Event in Centralia Promotes Acceptance and Celebration of Local LGBTQ+ Community


The LGBTQ+ community has a long history in Lewis County, but only in the past two years has that history been recognized with an official Pride festival in downtown Centralia.

Unlike last year’s Pride event, which came together with just one week of preparation in June 2021, organization for this year’s Pride started in January when Mary McHale asked around to see if anyone was interested in repeating the impromptu festival.

McHale was met with overwhelming interest from other members of the community — including friends of Rikkey Outumuro, also known as Tru Starlet, a local LGBTQ+ activist and performer who was murdered in October.

Outumuro performed at last year’s Lewis County Pride event at the Pine Street Plaza, McHale recalled to The Chronicle.

“And I remember afterwards, she came up to talk to us and said, almost through tears, just that she never thought she'd see a Centralia or Lewis County Pride event in such a prominent location downtown, and really how impactful it was for her, and how she was really excited about future events. And tragically, she's not going to be with us this year, but she will be there in memory,” McHale said.

She was present in more than memory in the morning leading up to Saturday’s festival.

Just before leaving her home Saturday morning to attend Lewis County Pride, Outumuro’s mother, Hope Schumacher, saw a rainbow-colored reflection in the shape of a flag shine through her kitchen window — something she said had never happened before.

“It was a clear indication to me that she’s here with us today. She’s celebrating with us today,” Schumacher said Saturday.

When local consulting agency Voie Hype donated a ribbon cutting for this year’s Pride festival, organizers decided to use it as an opportunity to formally dedicate Lewis County Pride 2022 to Outumuro.

“These events were really important to her. She really strived to do the best performance she could do for everyone,” said Schumacher, later adding, “She loved this community. She stayed strong in her conviction of making this a welcoming place for all.”

Schumacher recalled being scared for Outumuro at a Fourth of July parade she marched in shortly before her death, as Outumuro had received some hate mail beforehand.

Despite having a tomato thrown at her face, she did not stop marching.

“She had seeds on her face. I looked over and she had a tear in her eye, but that tear turned to ‘hmm-hmm,’ and she did not let it stop her because she had a mission. And that mission is happening today,” Schumacher said.

Saturday’s Pride event was, as McHale described it, “a homegrown Louis County resource fair, with some entertainment and dancing and some balloons and face painting.”

Organizations from around Lewis County, including Lewis County Seniors, Lewis County Public Health and Social Services, Hope Alliance, Multiculturally Minded Lewis County and multiple local churches, set up booths around Pine Street Plaza during Saturday’s festival, offering Pride-themed giveaways, messages of support for the LGBTQ+ community and information on the resources their organizations offered in the area. The Rural Youth Alliance hosted a family-friendly activity corner where volunteers did free face paintings, oversaw crafts and hosted a kids story time.

“There's certainly organizations that have thrown their support behind it, but I think what sets it apart from other corporate Pride events is that this really is just, you know, people want to come together, have this event, make sure that the LGBTQ community in Lewis County knows that they're welcome here. We have a place here, we have community resources available and Lewis County is a place for everybody,” McHale said.

Some organizations threw in donations to help cover the cost of the festivities: Rural Youth Alliance and the Lewis County Lollipop Guild each donated $500 and Tin Men Supply donated $3,000. Those contributions allowed organizers to design a logo for the event and buy stickers and flags to give away to attendees.

“It's not like it's a sponsorship. There's no marketing benefits that come with it. It really was just folks saying, ‘This event is important and we want to help make it a reality,’” McHale said.

For McHale, their motivation for helping organize a local Pride festival comes from their 13-year-old daughter.

“I know from talking to my daughter … she has friends who identify as LGBTQ, and they regularly get bullied. They get told to kill themselves. They're not even sure that all of their teachers are safe,” McHale said. “And so, we've really got a mental health crisis on our hands. And so that's really what this event is about, is really just showing the next generation that they are loved, they are wanted and they have a place here in Lewis County. And very selfishly, I want my daughter when she grows up to see Lewis County as a place that she might want to live one day. So to do that, she's going to need to see that her friends and her community are represented here and that they're a necessary part of what makes Lewis County awesome.”

Lewis County first formally recognized June as Pride Month with a resolution in 2021.

The resolution honored the historic Stonewall Riots, pointed to the area’s “diverse LGBTQ community” and urged residents to “build a culture of inclusiveness and acceptance.” The county commission chose not to issue symbolic proclamations at all this year.