By: Anastasia Penchi
Many larger communities like New York and LA hold their Pride festivals every June to celebrate gay rights.
La Crosse Pride has traditionally been held in September so area college students are able to attend, and in 2017 the La Crosse will celebrate Sept. 8-10.
This celebration of diversity and gay rights has been organized by The Center (formerly the LGBT Center of the Seven Rivers Region) since 2004. A variety of events are held throughout the weekend.
Show your support by attending. Here are five reasons to go:
PRIDE in the Park offers family fun
The Band Shell at Riverside Park is a great place to listen to music in a beautiful outdoor setting, and while the entertainment wasn’t announced by the time this was written, in years past they’ve had a Madison-based folk rock trio featuring violin, guitar and drums. In addition to live music, there will be vendors providing information, a beer garden and kids’ activities. Henna tattoos and face painting is very likely based on previous years. Did I mention the view is likely to include a lovely sea of rainbows along a picturesque river?
“So You Think You Can Drag?” is no drag
Ever been to a drag show? Expect high energy, laughter, music and a little shade (or a lot depending on the performer). Also, there is lots of make-up, some fashion sense, some fashion nonsense and sky high heels. It’s a place where everyone is expected to feel comfortable and safe in the skin they’re in – no matter how they are dressed. This is not the place for little ones as the language can get a bit R-rated. So can the music. But attendants are pretty much guaranteed amusement, entertainment and tons of laughter.
Picnic in the Park
If a low-key activity is more your style, show your support by participating in the Pride Family Picnic. Organizers will provide the main dishes (including vegetarian) for this free community, alcohol-free lunch in Copeland Park. Attendants are asked to bring a dish to pass, though it is not required to attend. For the very organized, there is even an online food registry where you can list what you plan on bringing so the group doesn’t end up with 25 chocolate cakes and no salads. But really, who am I kidding? Could people really complain surrounded by that much chocolate?
The Center does great things
The Center has been working for more than 10 years to improve the community’s understanding of human sexuality and gender identity. Officials speak to schools, businesses and professional organizations LGBTQ related, and offer a welcoming space for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification. It provides separate support groups for LGBT youth, adults and family members/allies. It organizes LGBT-friendly social events, and advocates for LGBT-friendly legislation.
If you might not usually attend a Pride event, do something about it — attend it this year! Every person and every business needs to support diversity. People are people. We are all human. Grow. If you really can’t attend, suggest to the Human Resources Department at work that the next diversity training include someone from The Center. Or make a financial donation to The Center. Or buy one of the books listed on The Center’s Amazon wish list as a donation. Better yet, buy two and keep one for yourself to read.
Anastasia Penchi is graduate of UW-La Crosse and a long-time Coulee Region writer who has written for area newspapers and magazines (www.loislaneforhire.com).