County’s first Pride event showcases diversity

Photos by Daniel Vasta/The Herald
Tyler Eckert, 16, left, Kamryn Gauker, 15, and Isabelle Lorey, 15, all of Jasper, squeak rubber duckies during the Dubois County Pride Pool Party at the Jasper Municipal Swimming Pool on Tuesday.


JASPER — Rain has pounded Dubois County this week but stopped just in time Tuesday night to bring out a rainbow for the county’s first ever Pride event.

Hundreds gathered at the Jasper Municipal swimming pool to participate in the pool party event, hosted by advocacy group ONE-Dubois County.

The event celebrated the county’s LGBT past, present and future and included activities planned by the Jasper High School Gay-Straight Alliance and the Arts Club.

“This is overwhelming,” said Tara Eckman, a member of ONE-Dubois County. “We conceived of it literally two weeks ago and we thought there might be 20 of us here.”

The activities included a photo booth, Twister, cornhole, a duck race, diving board contest and tie-dying bandanas.

The GSA club is co-sponsored by Atalie Schroering, 36, of Jasper.

“I always was very passionate that kids feel like they have a place in the school to go to and people that they feel loved by,” said Schroering, who is not LGBT herself but said her brother is. “That fear that you won’t be loved and accepted is still very much there.”

Karter Tarvin of Jasper shares his story of coming out as trans during the Dubois County Pride Pool Party at the Jasper Municipal Swimming Pool on Tuesday.

She said the event shows that the county is loving and accepting.

“We appreciate you and we want you here,” she said.

The effort to get the club into the Jasper school was spearheaded by Nancy Habig, a former president of the Greater Jasper School Board and member for over 30 years.

“It means the world to us,” she said of the event. “There is really a lot of support for the LGBT community here.”

The total number of attendees was 272, which included three elected officials in the area: County Councilwoman Becky Beckman, County Commissioner Elmer Brames and Jasper City Councilwoman Nancy Eckerle.

“We talk a lot in (Economic Development Board) meetings about quality of place and quality of place is a lot more than trails and Parklands and brick streets,” Brames said. “Quality of place is also about diversity. This right here is an example of how we show diversity in Dubois County.”

The Pride event also featured speaker Karter Tarvin, who came out as lesbian six years ago at 16 years old, as well as 11-year-old Zoie Warner, who read a book she wrote with the help of the GSA club titled “My Two Moms” about a trip she took to Mexico with her family.

Tarvin, a 22-year-old Jasper native, said Dubois County has played a huge role in guiding his journey of self discovery and with thickening his skin and softening his heart.

Tarvin was unsure how his family would react when he came out and prepared for the worst, but was met with unconditional love from his family, especially his sister, Mackenzie, who he said has always supported him and listened to him when he needed it.

Wesley Eckman, 12, of Jasper, left, and Kai Kunz, 12, of St. Anthony, compete together in a duck race during the Dubois County Pride Pool Party at the Jasper Municipal Swimming Pool on Tuesday.

“Still, there was a lingering pain in my heart clawing at my chest,” he said.

It wasn’t until three years ago when Tarvin, who was lesbian at the time, spoke to an openly transgender man and for the first time in Tarvin’s life, he understood what that pain was.

Tarvin met the transgender man at basic training for the Navy after both men were told they were being discharged for pre-existing medical issues. The man told Tarvin how he came to the conclusion that he was trans, and after Tarvin had time to think about it, he realized he was transgender, too.

“As soon as those words hit my tongue, the clawing in my chest stopped and my heart was at ease for the first time maybe ever,” he said.

Tarvin began his physical transition about a year and a half ago. He said Dubois County is far more loving than it is led on to be.

“Regardless of the hate and negativity that I’ve been exposed to, there’s four times as much love and support,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better community.”

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