Billie Sheridan has moved out of the shadows to stand up with pride for Pride in the Puddle. (Ruth Lloyd photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Billie Sheridan has moved out of the shadows to stand up with pride for Pride in the Puddle. (Ruth Lloyd photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

OUR HOMETOWN: Working to support LGBTQ2S+ in Williams Lake

Billie Sheridan is standing up with pride for Pride in the Puddle

Billie Sheridan wishes she had done this when she was younger.

Sheridan has come to where she is, as the public face of Williams Lake Pride Society slowly and gradually, and she was inspired to do so by her child.

When her child came out, identifying as non-binary – meaning a person doesn’t feel like their gender can be easily described as being male or female – Sheridan’s spouse became actively involved in the local Pride group.

“I just kind of helped in the back,” explained Sheridan of her initial involvement.

While both she and her spouse were very supportive of their child, the challenge came with trying to find services and supports.

Through the process of supporting their son, Sheridan began to examine her own suppressed feelings about her own gender identity.

Though Sheridan said she always knew there was something different about her, she had kept this hidden her entire life.

“Growing up in Vancouver there was lots of things that I couldn’t put a finger or a pulse on it but I knew I was different,” recalled Sheridan. She still remembers conflicted feelings she experienced in change rooms.

But then Sheridan fell in love and got married at an early age and “for most of my adult life I’ve oppressed it, I’ve kept it bottled in.”

However, a growing depression as she got older became a bigger and bigger issue, where she described herself as a “total grump” during the winter months.

“It was bad, and then one day, I just said ‘I have to do it,’ if my son’s brave enough to do it, then I need to be just as brave.”

In 2020, she came out as transgender and has since transitioned to realize her identity as a trans woman and has moved from the background of the Williams Lake Pride Society to very much front and centre. She is working to advocate for LGBTQ2S+ people in the community and has dedicated the latter part of her summer to now helping organize Pride in the Puddle for the week of Aug. 15-21.

She stood with Mayor Walt Cobb and KuKpi7 (Chief) Willie Sellars on Aug. 15 for the first ever Pride flag raising at city hall, something which meant so much to her.

“It means the city recognizes that we are here, we are part of the community.”

“I’m probably going to drive by it about a half a dozen times over the course of the week just to make sure that it’s real. It’s just a surreal feeling really.”

Now, at 47 years old, Sheridan admits since coming out, it has been a “roller coaster” with many challenges, but she counts herself as one of the lucky few.

She is very grateful for her supportive spouse, and the couple are continuing to raise the last of their three sons still at home, after nearly 30 years of marriage. The couple also has their first grandbaby, which Sheridan clearly takes great joy in.

What does Sheridan say when asked about what people should know about her journey?

“Believe trans people when they say who they are.”

“We’re just like anybody else, we want to get up, we want to go to work, we want to contribute to society, we want to find love, we want to raise our families.”

With so much hate in the world and the discrimination facing many LGBTQ2S+ people, things like the Pride flag flying over city hall gives her hope.

Read more: Illuminate your Life theme for Williams Lake Pride Society parade Aug. 20

Read more: PHOTO GALLERY: First-ever Pride in the Puddle picture perfect



ruth.lloyd@wltribune.com

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