It doesn’t get much simpler, or truer, than the theme of this year’s Rochester Pridefest.
Together = Proud.
Rochester’s annual celebration of love, acceptance, freedom, and respect runs from Thursday, July 14 through Sunday, July 17. Organized by Gay Lesbian Community Services of Southeastern Minnesota, the schedule offers a slew of events that foster togetherness, a needed sentiment in these trying times.
“We picked out the theme Together = Proud to stand in unity with our transgender brothers and sisters. To make sure that we included all gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters,” says Gale Julius, Pridefest’s co-chair.
After much hullabaloo over where Sunday’s culminating event would take place, the final day’s festivities will be held in the Peace Plaza. In addition to a score of festive celebrations, including a drag show and performances by music acts After School Special and Tender Tom Boys, a moment of remembrance for the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting is scheduled for 2 pm on Sunday. After the moment of remembrance, a kaleidoscope of butterflies will be released into the sky.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, there are plenty of other worthy events.
Everything kicks off Thursday evening at the Wicked Moose, where a patio party commences at 5. At 8, there’s a burlesque show inside. On Friday night, July 8, the party moves from the patio to the block, as a block party outside the Wicked Moose starts at 6 with brats and oldies courtesy of LP & the 45s. At 9, the party moves inside for a performance by Incognito and a DJ set by DJ Bruce Prime.
On Saturday morning, a worship service and potluck occur from 11 until 2 that afternoon at the West Silver Lake Pavilion.
In conjunction with Pridefest, there’s a showing of “How Love Won” on Monday, July 11 at 6 p.m. at the Rochester Public Library. The film tells a story about the defeat of Minnesota’s marriage amendment, which would have defined marriage as strictly between a man and a woman. After the film, a panel featuring people who worked on the campaign convenes for a question and answer session.
Why is Pridefest important?
I think that there are a number of people who, still, today, are uncertain about whether or not they can hold their partner’s hand or their wife’s or husband’s hand in public. I think when things like what happened in Orlando happen, it becomes even more scary. My wife and I have been married for a year, been together for three, and even then, when it happened in Orlando, we very consciously looked around us to make sure who was with us when we held hands and such. I think it’s very important that we come together and we celebrate together. We find that time while we’re there to be a time that’s comfortable for us to be able to hold hands or be with our families and not have to worry about that for a moment.
-Gale Julius, co-chair of Pridefest.