This weekend the South Central Minnesota Pride events will be taking place throughout Mankato, there are family activities and fun events for adults! We had the opportunity to speak with Charlie Johnston, a South Central Minnesota Pride Board Member.
Charlie: The mission of South Central Minnesota Pride is to promote visibility and pride in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied communities of South Central Minnesota.
We are here to create a welcoming space for all people, to provide education, acceptance and connection to everyone, but specifically those in the LGBT+ community. (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender)
GMM: This weekend is your annual Pride celebration, when and where are events taking place?
Charlie: We have lots of great events taking place. The best way to stay up to date is by checking out our website at SCMNPride.org
where you’ll find all of our events. We will kick off the weekend with Queereoke on Friday night at the Loose Moose starting at 7:30pm. Come on out and get ready to sing your favorite tune, have a drink or a bite to eat and start Pride weekend off the right way. If you’re lucky you might even get to catch a tune from our famous drag emcee, Miss Gosh Alice Jones.
On Saturday the fun starts along Riverfront Drive with our annual Jessica Flatequal Parade at 11:30am. The parade starts at Plum street and travels North on Riverfront Dr. ending in Riverfront Park. Candy and goodies will be handed out by various groups in the parade.
Follow the parade down to Riverfront Park where the fun continues with our 20th annual Pride Festival. At Riverfront Park you’ll experience a variety of food vendors, exhibits, community organizations and of course our stage is packed with great performers where you’ll find everything from fire dancers to drag, drag and more drag.
On Saturday evening we will see you at Rounders starting at 6pm for our afterparty where you can dance the night away with old and new friends.
Sunday is for youth and we will be at the Wow Zone! From 3-5pm for our annual youth party.
All events are free of charge.
GMM: Will there be activities for kids?
Charlie: Yes, we will have events for kids at the festival- check out our art projects going on thanks to the help of the 410 Project. Drag and dancing by the stage is always popular with kids too. And what kid doesn’t love a parade with free candy? We also have our youth event for LGBT or questioning youth at the Wow Zone on Sunday, September 12 from 3-5pm.
GMM: Can you tell us more about the Youth Party?
Charlie: This is a safe space (yes, there will be chaperones) for youth to connect or reconnect with others their own age, hang out, bowl, enjoy some pizza and be themselves. We intentionally limit the age group for this event so that it is just for youth so they have a safe and supportive event just for them. Our youth parties have been very successful in the past and we have seen youth who have come from over an hour away to attend.
GMM: The events of the weekend all look like so much fun! Why would you encourage families who aren’t part of the LGBT+ community to attend?
Charlie: Absolutely, our events are open and welcoming to everyone and we encourage everyone to attend. This is a great way to show that you are an ally to those in the LGBT community and to show your support. Someone in your family, that you may not know about, could be part of the LGBT community and attending an event like Pridefest may be just what they needed to know that you are a safe person for them to come out to.
GMM: Do you have any resources for straight, cisgendered parents to become better allies for LGBT families in our community?
Charlie: Yes, we have lots of resources available at our festival though different community organizations, supportive churches, other non-profit organizations as well as people you’ll meet while enjoying the drag show. There are so many resources but if you don’t find what you’re looking for please contact us and we will be happy to help.
If anyone wants to volunteer to help at the festival they can do so on our website and scroll to the bottom to choose the link to volunteer.