The colors of the rainbow will slip down from the sky to downtown Iowa City this week as Pride Week events kick off.
Throughout the week, different Pride eventsare featured, such as the Big Gay Bar Crawl, karaoke, and the Pride Picnic. The main events include a parade that starts at College Green Park and a Pride Festival on the Pedestrian Mall.
Attendees can look forward to seeing a wide array of events such as a President Trump dunk tank in which anyone can come and try dunking someone wearing a Trump mask, making for a fun twist on the dunk tank from previous years. There will also be a Cher impersonator, 25 new vendors that have never been a part of Iowa City Pride, and of course, the annual Pride Parade.
“We have gone from having about 30 vendors, just representatives in the communities like churches and businesses, organizations, nonprofit organizations, to having more than 85 this year signed up for Pride to show up and be a part of our community,” said Jewell Amos, a past president of Iowa City Pride. “We used to have Pride in the Upper City Park, and it was isolated, and when I became in charge, we moved it down to the Ped Mall, and we’ve been able to attract more people.”
Pride Week is about exactly that: being proud of who you are. This week is intended to be a celebration empowering people to come out and be proud of who they are.
The week is more than a series of events for the LGBTQ community, though; families can come out and show their support as well. The organizers have made opening up the Iowa City Pride festivities to families a focus of theirs.
“[What draws people to Pride is] the ability for them to be their authentic selves, to celebrate pieces of their identity that are often discriminated against and marginalized in larger American society,” said Kendra Malone, the diversity resources coordinator in the University of Iowa Diversity Office.
Malone organized the Dark and Lovely Lounge, a place that highlights and centralizes the experience of queer and people of color in Iowa City Pride.
Pride has been a large part of the global culture now for 48 years, starting with the 1969 Stonewall riots. Since then, Pride has become a way for people in the LGBTQ community to have their voices heard and gain visibility in their communities.
“It used to be pretty small; the parade used to be what felt like 10 minutes, and now it goes for at least an hour,” said Tony Sivanthaphanith, the public liaison for nonprofit organization Titans of the Midwest. “A lot more people are coming out for it. We have a lot more entertainment downtown, the one bar we have (Studio 13) has expanded, we’ve been able to close off the streets and have a more actually community-orientated thing and more family-orientated stuff because we’re very diverse in Iowa.”
In the past decade, Pride has grown immensely. What once encompassed only lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people has expanded into a community that accepts all types of people. The LGBTQ community is very diverse, and it has become a mission for some to make sure everyone feels accepted in their communities.
“It is important to remember that LGBTQ communities are incredibly diverse regarding race, ability, disability, immigration status, and multitudes of identities,” Malone said.
Pride not only gives people a safe place to express who they are, but it also signals to the LGBTQ community that there is another place that accepts them, such as churches and business all year long.
“It’s always important to create space and avenues for people to celebrate and build communities and have the opportunity to meet other people, have new experiences, showcase their talent, learn something new, dance, laugh, and sing,” Malone said. “Iowa City Pride has been a pinnacle of that for 47 years, while also recognizing the need to deepen its inclusivity of folks of all kinds of queer identities.”