Benson seeks being an inclusive space for all

Published: Jun. 8, 2020 at 10:05 PM CDT
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One planned effort this month to celebrate and demand for rights has taken on another cause under its wings.

Walking down the streets of Benson you’ll see lots of rainbows and gay pride decorations right alongside Black Lives Matter signs. It’s a duo that some in the Benson community feel is a partnership that makes sense.

“Pride is a riot. It is loud, it is joyful, it is a celebration. It is lifting up over our oppressors,” said John-Paul Gurnett with Benson First Friday. “And I think our city is feeling that right now, and we’re just very honored that part of the revolution is on us.”

Pride month in Benson is usually a big to-do. But this year, the acknowledgment of the rights this community has fought for feels a little deeper.

“That’s kind of how these movements happen in solidarity. You have one group that is an ally to another and we connect and we share our energy with each other and we just use that to support each other,” Gurnett said.

As crises like the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide protests in response to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis have changed Omaha, organizers with BFF Omaha saw this as an opportunity to take the slower than normal month and make a statement.

“We’re here just to make everyone feel good about themselves,” Gurnett said.

With art, activism, and messages of hope, those from the area want Benson to be a leader for inclusivity.

“Justice, representation. Just equal representation to make sure everybody has an equal seat at the table,” said Robert Oehlberg.

It was pointed out LGBT activism lasts longer than Pride Month. It’s the hope for many in Benson that proves to be the case for all activism happening right now.

BFF Omaha is expanding its reach and activism this year after receiving an Equality grant from the Omaha Community Foundation. They’ll be using this to bring in more people and more events to make Omaha a more inclusive space.

More information about BFF