Featured in the Venus chapter in Agents of Evolution
The Evolutionary Path of Venus + Relationships
I have known Gina DuQuenne since 2015, when we worked together at a hospitality company in our little mountain town of Ashland, Oregon. Walking into our marketing office I found Gina’s contagiously fun-loving energy genuinely uplifting. That and she always had the sassiest shoes! From her desk, Gina dealt event sales for the many hotels in the hospitality company’s portfolio, helping to create some of the most extraordinarily magical weddings and parties in the Rogue Valley. Venus herself would have been delighted.
Gina’s story, though, carries an inspiring, deeper vein of Venus. Upon moving here from southern California with her wife, she served a predominantly white, cisgender, heteronormative clientele. What you have to know about Gina before I go on is that she could charm anyone into anything. She is one of the most socially gifted human beings I have ever met.
When I asked her, “What’s the secret sauce? How can any of us be more charming like you?”
“Just be yourself,” she replied.
And this truly is Gina’s secret—she genuinely loves people, and she’s just being herself. It puts everyone at ease, and social scenes flow accordingly.
Gina looked around our small town when she got here and thought to herself, “Where are all the people like me? Where do they hang out? Where do they party?” She came to find out there really weren’t any venues, any dedicated events for the LGBTQ community. She also sensed that some people didn’t know if it was okay to be public about their love. Ashland being a town that loves a good parade, Gina decided she would start a PRIDE parade here. At first, it was just a fleeting thought: “What this town needs is a PRIDE event! A celebration of the LGBTQ community that everyone can enjoy.” She mentioned the thought in passing to her daughter, and her daughter nudged her, “Mom, why don’t you start it?”
Staying in the Conversation
It took two years to get from initial thought to inaugural parade—to get the permits, to talk to the shops on Main Street, to raise the support and financial backing to pay City Hall the parade fee, and maybe even to gather up the courage. Her biggest success, however, was winning over the shop owners who initially refused to put up signs for the parade. During the first parade, she passed a couple of those shops and saw they had made their own signs and put them up in their windows.
How did she win them over? I had to ask. “I just kept talking,” she explains, “I stayed in the conversation.” She put the shop owners at ease through conversation. She was the same outstanding event planner they had all known and loved so well. None of that changed because of her relationship choices. She drew on a deep understanding of Venus to allow them to come around.
The joy this parade surfaces in our town to this day no longer belongs to just the LGBTQ community. Like any event where we celebrate as one community—Cinco de Mayo, Holi Festival, Mardi Gras, Christmas—we have a chance to celebrate us all, in all our diversity.
Last year, Gina won a seat on the City Council. She’s the first Black American to serve there. No doubt she’ll keep on winning over the hearts and minds of locals in this valley on a variety of issues. Venus works like this—she cajoles, she seduces, she enchants, she charms, all while being herself and staying in the conversations and connections she so enjoys.