Full of ‘Pride’

Tammy Aaberg (back of car), of Champlin, greets parade goes as a co-grand marshal of the Twin Cities Pride Parade Sunday, June 24. She is joined by volunteers of Justin’s Gift, an organization that strives to provide empowering programming for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning youth and their ally friends. The services are primarily for youth in the general vicinity of Anoka, Andover, Blaine, Champlin, Coon Rapids, and Ramsey but youth from any community are welcome. Justin’s Gift will be hosting their 2nd Annual Anoka LGBTQ Youth Pride Aug. 7 at Coon Rapids Regional Dam.

Aaberg lost her 15-year-old son Justin to suicide on July 9, 2010. Shortly after his death, she learned that Justin was a victim of bullying and harassment at school because he was gay. Since then, in addition to establishing programs that empower LGBT youth, Tammy has made it her mission to tell Justin’s story in order to let others know that much work remains to be done to make our schools and communities safer. In recognition of Tammy’s efforts at the national, state and community level, she was invited to be part of Governor Mark Dayton’s recent announcement of establishing a Task Force on the Prevention of School Bullying. Aaberg was also recognized at an awards ceremony earlier this month.

"It was an amazing experience seeing so many people being positive and supportive," said Aaberg.

Aaberg shared the duties of grand marshal with Minnesota Lynx basketball player Seimone Augustus. As an integral part of the 2011 World Champion Minnesota Lynx basketball team, Augustus was awarded the team’s MVP. She was chosen as a co-grand marshal for her hard work and dedication as an athlete which is considered an inspiration to young female athletes, and her willingness to live her life as an openly gay athlete which Pride organizers call an inspiration to the community.