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