Photo courtesy of Nathan Johnson
2020 was supposed to be the sixteenth anniversary of East Central Minnesota Pride. The cancellation, like so many other plans that were spoiled by the pandemic, was heartbreaking for the loyal attendees of this annual celebration. East Central Minnesota Pride is one of the only Pride gatherings that specifically caters to members of the LGBTQ community who live in rural America. 2021 will mark the return of East Central Minnesota Pride, although this year it will be in early autumn instead of the summer.
Keeping it Safe
More than anything else, the board of East Central Minnesota Pride wants to prioritize the safety of all Pride attendees. “The safety and well-being of our community is the number one consideration,” explains Julie Redpath of Chisago City. This abundance of caution is what led the board to schedule the 2021 East Central Minnesota Pride on September 18th instead of its usual June date.
In addition to scheduling the event in September, the board is keeping a close eye on the government regulations and guidelines enacted to limit the spread of COVID-19. Any and all guidelines will be carefully followed at the gathering.
By following safety protocols, the board for East Central MN Pride aims to maximize the enjoyment of this year’s Pride gathering. Even as COVID-related risks drop, many people still feel a little wary of large groups. By setting clear guidelines before the celebration, the board hopes that attendees will know that this is a safe space: not only for members of the LGBTQ community, but also for those who are concerned about COVID.
Same Old Spirit
“We are looking at ways to make the event fun and enjoyable, yet safe,” says Phil Schroeder of Mora. Having the opportunity to congregate with other members of the LGBTQ community is vitally important – especially for those who live in rural areas where they might otherwise feel isolated and alone.
In previous years, East Central Minnesota Pride has featured popular musical acts like Kat Perkins and Mark Joseph. There are also representatives of members of all kinds of queer communities in attendance, which provides a safe space for those who are questioning or curious about their own identities to explore and learn.
There is still a lot up in the air about what will and will not be included in this year’s celebration, but you can rest assured that East Central Minnesota Pride will be fun and full of support for and by LGBTQ Minnesotans.
There are plenty of ways to get involved in East Central Minnesota Pride. Make a donation, think about joining the board, become a vendor, or just attend the event!
Donations are key for East Central Minnesota Pride. The board was unable to host their usual fundraiser last year, which makes organizing and executing a successful event more difficult. Donations can be made through the website and all proceeds go towards the annual Pride celebration.
Additionally, the board is actively seeking involvement of underrepresented groups on their board. The board is especially interested in hearing from you if you live in rural Minnesota and identify as a Two-Spirit, trans person, or queer woman.
There are two ways for local businesses to get involved. The first option attending as a vendor. As of this writing, vendor applications are still open on the website. Being a vendor is a great way to participate in the event and support LGBTQ folks in your community. Queer-friendly businesses are also welcomed to reach out to the board and request an “All Are Welcome Here” sticker or rainbow flag to display on their property. Visibility is vital in rural towns. Even small gestures like displaying supportive messaging and images can have huge positive ramifications.
And of course – just showing up to the celebration is the easiest way to show your support! Whether you are a member of the LGBTQ community, a family member or an ally, the importance of a robust, welcoming community cannot be understated.
Hope to see you there this September!
East Central MN Pride
September 18 from 1 to 5 p.m.
Robinson Park in Pine City