Rochester’s PrideFest this weekend could be thought of as one extra-big celebration.
The recent Supreme Court decision making same-sex marriage the law of the land is merely the latest in a string of victories for the LGBT community locally and nationwide.
“The last couple of years, with defeating the marriage amendment in Minnesota, then Minnesota legalizing same-sex marriage, and this year with the Supreme Court ruling — there’s a lot to celebrate,” said Bill Broring, chairman of the board of Gay Lesbian Community Services of Rochester. “It’s an exciting time in our nation’s history.”
That, though, doesn’t mean PrideFest and related events have outlived their usefulness.
“The work isn’t done yet,” Broring said. “There’s still a lot of friction in certain camps. Even though legally we have accomplished much, we still haven’t gotten to the point where there is acceptance.”
A backlash against LGBT folks and their new-found rights exists, he said. “A lot of people still don’t feel safe in that regard.”
Given that situation, PrideFest is as important as ever, for LGBT folks and their allies, and for their neighbors.
“It’s a time for people to come out and engage, because a lot of the people celebrating are your co-workers and your neighbors,” Broring said. “We’re all trying to make our community of Rochester and the world a better place.”
Likewise, for those within the LGBT community, PrideFest offers a chance to get to know each other. “Events like PrideFest are important to be able to sit down face-to-face and visit,” Broring said.
For LGBT folks, getting together in Rochester is not always easy. “It would be nice if there was a gay bar, or a gay-owned coffee shop or restaurant,” Broring said. The LGBT community usually holds a happy hour on Thursdays at the Wicked Moose and meets for coffee on Tuesdays at the People’s Food Co-op.
Why doesn’t a gay bar exist here? “Rochester is still a fairly conservative community,” Broring said. “We hope that at some point down the road there would be a gay bar. And that time will come.”
Until then, PrideFest remains the place to celebrate.
“We always try to make it so it’s family friendly,” Broring said. That aspect received special attention this year with the scheduling of family movie night Friday, and the LGBTQ Teen Prom Saturday night, plus the return of the family potluck picnic Saturday at Silver Lake Park.
The complete PrideFest schedule:
— Happy hour on the patio at Wicked Moose, 1201 Eastgate Drive SE, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
— Movie Night, showing “To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything,” at 7 p.m. at Peace United Church of Christ, 1503 Second Ave. NE. Free for students, suggested donation of $5 for adults.
— “All Together Now” at 9:30 p.m. at Rochester Civic Theatre, 20 Civic Center Drive SE. Live performance of “A Lesbian’s Guide To Self-Care” by Kat Marie Yoas, followed by screening of three contemporary queer cinema films. Free.
— PrideFest Family Potluck at noon, West Silver Lake shelter. Speaker Michael Hughes will discuss issues facing the transgender community.
— LGBTQ Teen Prom, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m at Rochester Public Library, for teens in grades 7 to 12. Free, but ID required at the door.
— Dragagonza, “Color Me Beautiful” presented by the Rochester Girls, doors open at 6:30 p.m. at the Wicked Moose, 1201 Eastgate Drive SE. $10 admission, $2 off with PrideFest button. Must be 21 to attend.
— Pride worship service at 11 a.m. at Peace United Church of Christ, 1503 Second Ave. NE.
— PrideFest celebration, noon to 4 p.m., at the Peace Plaza. Fifty exhibitors, live entertainment. Free. Featuring LP & the 45s from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Ovation LGBT Choir from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., and drag dance hour, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.