Drag Kings perform at Studio 13's IC Kings show on Thursday, June 15, 2017. After the show ended, many of the guests at the event continued celebrating Pride Week on the dance floor. (The Daily Iowan/James Year)

Pride Perspectives: From Stonewall Riots to city-wide festivals

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Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The gay liberation movement, and our modern gay pride celebrations, started as an uprising due to oppression at a gay bar and that is one of the reasons I feel so strongly as to the importance of Pride.

Iowa City Pride has grown from marching during the University of Iowa Homecoming Parade in 1970 to a celebration that encompasses a large portion of downtown with support from throughout the community. I am fortunate enough to own Studio 13 and get to experience talent, beauty and diversity every day. I strive to always improve, learn and grow while giving everyone a place to be respected and feel welcome.  I take that same commitment with me as part of the Pride board and am thankful to be able to work every year to have a positive impact on our community.

Our yearly celebration of Pride is a big way for all of us to be visible and help those who may be struggling to find acceptance and strength. Of all the amazing things Iowa City Pride does, I believe the most important is to give a voice and visibility to all members of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially those who may be marginalized.  Visibility is a key to acceptance.  When someone who may be having a hard time coming out or understanding what they’re feeling sees someone who’s proud of who they are, who has similar and relatable experiences and who can be a friend or mentor, it can be life changing.

This is my seventh year helping with Iowa City Pride and our biggest festival in 48 years. I want everyone to come out, be visible, be respectful, maybe even meet someone new. Most of all, let’s celebrate and be PROUD!

— Jason Zeman

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