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Check Out Beth Finder’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Beth Finder. Them and their team share their story with us below:

Pride St. Charles was formed by a mother’s concern for her son’s safety and emotional well-being after he came out at the age of 14. During their involvement with St. Charles PFLAG, the family realized the St. Charles County area needed more LGBTQIA+ acceptance. They wanted their son to live in a community where he doesn’t have to fear being himself. It was clear that someone needed to do something.

While tabling at Pride St. Louis in 2014 with St. Charles PFLAG, VP of St. Charles PFLAG Beth Finder was told that there were not currently any Pride celebrations in the St. Charles County area. Upon this realization, Beth realized that this was the perfect opportunity to create something wonderful.

With the help of PFLAG President, Jill Aul began the task of getting community members to help with their initial idea, a Pride picnic for the community. After several public meetings with enthusiastic community support, their efforts were the grassroots of what is now the Pride St. Charles festival.

They began to see their vision come to life in a way that neither of them thought possible.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
When I began this journey of making our community more inclusive, I expected many obstacles. Being prepared for the worst-case scenario is how I approach new opportunities.

From the first year our Pride team worked to plan the festival until now, we have been very fortunate not to have too many roadblocks. The area has worked with us to plan our events and annual festival.

As for struggles, what has been difficult since COVID, is finding volunteers.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
For the last 30-plus years, I have worked in the Administrative field providing support to various managers. My career path led me to education 25 years ago. Working as an administrative assistant in education provided me the flexibility to raise our son while working a full-time 12-month-a-year job.

During my time as an administrative assistant, I have had the opportunity to work in the areas of special education for 17 years, then worked at a high school as the athletic director’s assistant. Last August, I took a leap and applied for a transfer to an executive assistant position in the community relations office of the school district. It has been a great move. The job is fast-paced and busy like in my previous positions.

It has taken me into a whole new field that is expanding my skillset.

While working in the high school athletic office, I had the opportunity to work with student-athletes and those who participate in school activities such as clubs, band, choir, etc. This job was a very rewarding position for me. I was able to watch students work hard to excel in their various activities. My co-workers at the high school were aware of my nonprofit, Pride St. Charles.

This afforded me the opportunity to work with the high school GSA (Gender & Sexualities Alliance) group as well as provide a safe space for some of the transgender and non-binary students. Staff would reach out to me when there was a student who needed a safer place to use the restroom or when they had questions about an LGBTQIA+ student.

Providing a resource to other staff and providing a safe space for students was one of the things about my former position that I am most proud of.

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
My husband and I have one son, Zak. He came out to us as gay when he was 14 years old. My first instinct was to protect him from anyone who would hurt him. While Zak was very confident in living his truth, there were others in his high school that did not see him for who he was.

A truly, kind, selfless, caring person. Instead, all they saw was a gay young man. This led to Zak being bullied while he was in high school because others perceived him as different. High school was an awful experience for our son. It led to later being diagnosed with social phobia and anxiety.

Watching what Zak went through taught me how brave he and others of the LGBTQIA+ community truly are. Every single day he faced hate, name-calling, physical threats, and loss of friendships all because he finally had the strength to stand in his truth.

Zak taught me the meaning of true bravery. Each and every day he has to live with some apprehension that someone might judge, physically threaten him, or possibly hurt him for being who he is. Those in the LGBTQIA+ community stand in their truth bravely each day.

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Image Credits

John Frey Photography and Adam Bouska

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