BUILDING COMMUNITY: TahlEquality hosts casual get-togethers | New

MCommunity members were invited to socialize Saturday at a get-together hosted by TahlEquality, the regional chapter of Oklahomans For Equality.

Attendees enjoyed snacks, coffee and company in the lobby of Amy Edwards’ therapy clinic. After a number of virtual events due to the pandemic, Edwards was happy to see everyone back together.

“We want our community to know we’re here,” Edwards said.

With no set agenda, the event was a casual get-together of members and allies of the LGBTQ community. Edwards said it was an opportunity for people to get together and meet the board, about half of whom were in attendance.

On its Facebook pages, TahlEquality describes itself as a nonprofit LGBTQ2/straight alliance group promoting equal rights for citizens of Tahlequah and the rest of Oklahoma.

At the start of the event, participants gathered in the front room of the clinic. There was an air of acceptance and encouragement as all participants introduced themselves and explained how they identify with the group.

“We’re all here for you, and we’re all here for each other,” Edwards said after a youngster introduced himself.

Saturday marked the second of two meetings last week. Ashley Andrews and Val Andrews attended the two, the first event just a day after their July 10 wedding.

“We came looking for like-minded people and meeting new people,” Ashley Andrews said. “We wanted to put ourselves forward.”

Ashley said the couple had already made friends.

Hope for new relationships was a theme among many onlookers, like Tahlequah resident Brooklyn Vance.

“I tried to go out and meet like-minded people, and that was one way to do it,” Vance said.

Vance enjoyed the event.

“Besides the panic attack, I’m having a wonderful time,” Vance joked.

Maddox Cott shared his reason for coming to Meet and Greet.

“I wanted to meet new people,” Cott said. “I’m really, really supportive, reaching out to people with support.”

Cott said he thinks it’s important that people “know who your neighbors are.”

“I feel like putting people in the same room is a great way to do that,” Cott said.

While many are familiar with the big parades and parties often scheduled for Pride Month in June, Cott explained why small get-togethers are also important for the LGBTQ community.

“If we only see each other once or twice at these big events, we don’t get to know each other — at least not on the level that builds community,” Cott said.

Edwards said TahlEquality plans to host more meetup events soon.

“We’re going to try to have them all over town,” Edwards said.

And after

TahlEquality will hold its Prom on September 17 and its “Occupy Love” Pride event on October 22. More information about TahlEquality is available at: