Every year in June since the Stonewall Riots, the LGBTQIA+ community celebrates the triumphs they have made over discrimination and celebrates the pride they have in their community. This gives June its unofficial title of "Pride Month."
Pride events are held nationwide in cities large and small, and for some Americans, it is the only occasion where they can be out and proud in their community. Pride festivals and parades are a celebration of the progress the LGBTQIA+ community has made but also a time to recognize the distance they still have to go to achieve full equality.
“In the United States, the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as ‘Gay Pride Day,’ but the actual day was flexible,” according to the Library of Congress website. “In major cities across the nation, the 'day' soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events.”
Originally, Pride was solely a political demonstration to voice LGBTQIA+ demands for equal rights and protections. More parades and demonstrations were organized across the U.S., including parades by PFLAG and ACT UP during the AIDS epidemic, according to the Human Rights Campaign website.
Early iterations of Pride were marches like the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, which was started by two LGBTQIA+ activist groups — the Gay Activist Alliance and the Gay Liberation Front.
Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970, marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street and the first Gay Pride march in U.S. history, covering the 51 blocks to Central Park.
The march took less than half the scheduled time due to the excitement of attendees but also due to wariness about walking through the city with gay banners and signs — but the marchers encountered little resistance from onlookers.
It was not until 1991 that Pride began to resemble what it is today: a celebration of queer life and sexuality in addition to a political and social demonstration.
Today, celebrations during Pride Month include parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBTQIA+ Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world.
“Pride Month can create opportunities to commemorate Stonewall and those who fostered movements towards equity while also raising the awareness of the current issues facing LGBTQIA+ people,” said Brad Freihoefer, director of the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success.
One of the biggest Pride Month celebrations in Iowa is Capital City Pride’s "Pride Fest" in Des Moines, which begins Saturday and will continue through June 9.
This year is the 41st Pride Fest, and with over 30 events and a theme of “This is Us,” this celebration will be packed with events and attendees.
Saturday starts out with Bubba’s Drag Brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Bubba, where attendees can enjoy some southern cooking as Des Moines’ top drag personalities put on a performance.
The Des Moines Art Center will be opening of the Queer Abstraction exhibit at 7 p.m. Saturday. This is the Art Center's first exhibit in its 70-year history to focus exclusively on LGBTQIA+ art and artists.
The Mr, Ms, Mx Pride Contest at The Garden Nightclub will begin at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, costing $5 per attendee. This contest is a crowning of the 2019 Mr, Ms, and Mx for this year’s Pride Fest celebration. This annual event is themed “Pride in the Wilderness,” which will feature performances by area contestants.
Capital City Pride will present a storytelling event titled “True Stories, True Selves” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Temple for Performing Arts,
“This event focuses on intimacy and authenticity, it promotes individuals to unlock meaningful, memorable stories to connect people of the Des Moines Metro with the LGBTQ community, our mission and vision,” according to the Capital City Pride website.
OUTWOD Des Moines will be take place 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Max Oxygen CrossFit, where attendees can “get their sweat on,” according to the Capital City Pride website.
Also at 6:30 p.m. is the Capital City Pride Speaker Series with David J. Getsy at the Des Moines Art Center. Attendees can listen to Getsy discuss their projects which focus on queer and transgender tactics in artistic practice and in art historical methodologies.
A Night OUT at Principal Park will begin at 7:30 p.m. that night.attendees can watch the Iowa Cubs take on the El Paso Chihuahuas. This event costs $10 per attendee.
From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 7, there will be an event called “Pride at Adventureland Park,” where attendees can enjoy waterslides, rollercoasters and the water park for $35 per person.
Matthew Shepard Scholarship Award Ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. June 7 at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center, where attendees can watch the 20th presentation of Iowa’s Matthew Shepard Scholarships. Scholarships are awarded to outstanding LGBTQIA+ Iowa high school seniors in the name of Matthew Shepard, a college student killed in an anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming in 1998.
There will be a “Pride Silent Disco” in the street near Blazing Saddle beginning at 6 p.m. and lasting until midnight. Rather than using a loudspeaker system, music is broadcasted to participants wearing wireless headphones with radio transmitters. Those without headphones hear no music, giving the effect of a street full of people dancing to nothing.
Big Freedia, a hip-hop artist, will perform at 9 p.m. June 7 at the 107.5 KISS FM Mainstage.
“Known as the Queen of Bounce, Big Freedia is at the forefront of the Bounce rap movement which is a subgenre of hip-hop born out of New Orleans and known for its call and response style and lightening speed booty-shaking dance,” according to the Capital City Pride website.
There will be a “Pride Fun Run 5K” beginning at Brenton Skating Plaza at 8 a.m. June 8.
The “Pride Pet Parade” will be held at Brenton Skating Plaza at 9 a.m. that day. It costs $5 to enter. Leashes are required and must not exceed four feet in length. Day-of walk-ups are allowed to participate.
"Pride Yoga” will begin at 11 a.m. at Brenton Skating Plaza, where all levels of yoga enthusiasts can participate in an hour of free yoga.
The 10-Years of Love Reception at the People’s Plaza at the State Capitol will begin at noon and includes events to celebrate 10 years of marriage equality — and a chance for a renewal of vows for any LGBTQIA+ couple who would like to participate.
The Family & Kids Zone will also open at noon and will be situated at Brenton Skating Plaza where families and friends can participate in everything from face painting to sprinklers and a stage for kids to take part in karaoke and make balloon animals.
The "Meet the Candidates" will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the State Capitol's People’s Plaza, where attendees can listen to local and national office-seekers give a 10-minute introduction.
Rounding out June 8 is "Drag King DSM" at 8 p.m. at Wooly’s. Admission is $15 at the door.
June 9 will house the main event — the one everyone thinks of when they think of Pride: the parade.
The parade will begin at noon and take place in the Historic East Village of downtown Des Moines, with the parade making its iconic route from the Statehouse and traveling west alongside Grand Avenue.
Other performers throughout the week include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Parson James and Elevate.
According to the Capital City Pride website, LGBTQIA+-friendly hotels in the area include Embassy Suites Downtown Des Moines, AC Hotel by Marriott Des Moines East Village, Renaissance Des Moines Savery, Des Moines Marriott Downtown and Sheraton West Des Moines.