As you all know we like to get to the bottom of everything (no pun intended!) so we reached out to our friends at PrideFest St. Louis to get the inside scoop on this awesome Pride Festival! Here is the skinny from our good friend Ethan Barnett, programmer of the festival.
What sets PrideFest St. Louis apart from other events of its type?
"PrideFest St. Louis is unique in that it is a free and family friendly community-wide celebration in the heart of a beautiful and historic South St. Louis Park. The two day event boasts live national, regional and local entertainment, one of the cities largest and most exciting parades, local restaurants, a grass volleyball tournament, Pride 5k and most importantly a vibrant and strong St. Louis LGBT community."
What about this year's event makes it bigger and better than last year's?
"This years event promises to be bigger and better than ever. The Pride Entertainment Committee worked diligently to build one of the strongest and most dynamic entertainment lineups, there are nearly 200 vendors and sponsors, an Athletes Village, the Pride 5k, new and exciting food options and a new layout to festival. PrideFest St. Louis has undergone a facelift."
How does this event represent/reflect the LGBT culture of St. Louis?
"PrideFest is the ultimate St. Louis LGBT Festival and celebrates 33 years of history in St. Louis. PrideFest brings the entire community together under one umbrella and attempts to showcase the St. Louis LGBT community in its entirity. The list of vendors and sponsors contains those who are allies and supporters but also those who are members of the St. Louis LGBT community."
What should guests expect from this year's PrideFest St. Louis?
"Guests should expect a new layout to festival, stronger entertainment lineup, increased media and exposure and one of the most vibrant parades in the city."
What is the history of PrideFest St. Louis?
"What became known as St. Louis Lesbian & Gay Pride Celebration Committee was born in 1979, but the first St. Louis Gay and Lesbian Pride Celebration didn’t occur until 1980. This event was sponsored by the Magnolia Committee - named for the street where the majority of the members lived and had their meetings. Their combined effort with a second organization resulted in a weeks worth of activities held in April of 1980. At the end of the week hundreds gathered for “The Lesbians and Gays Walk for Charity” which went down Lindell Boulevard in the Central West End to Washington University’s quadrangle. These two combined groups then became the St. Louis Lesbian & Gay Pride Celebration Committee.
At the same time, writer Jim Thomas invited representatives from organizations around town to a meeting to begin discussions for an annual celebration. It was to be held in June as a tribute to the Stonewall Riots which occurred the last weekend of June in 1969. Each participating organization, still able to keep their identity in individual events, would form a larger group – creating a greater whole. At the time, the celebration consisted of a picnic in the beginning of the week and a march at the end.
Thus began a tradition which is still strong today in St. Louis. June is now known as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, and since the first PrideFest in 1981 this event has grown in size, attendance, and scope. A Pride Festival takes on a huge importance for our community because it allows, if even for one brief weekend, for people to feel proud of who they are. We provide them a safe place to be who they wish to be, and that empowerment can be a life-altering experience.
For over thirty years, Pride St. Louis, Inc. has been working to raise understanding and acceptance of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender individuals in our community. We are not a political group, but rather a community-based organization that envisions a world where diversity can be celebrated and prejudice has been eliminated. We welcome you to join us for a meeting, a workshop, or a special event. As an organization, we are working hard to bring about changes...right here in St. Louis. The Board of Directors meets once a month on the third Monday of every month at The LGBT Center of St. Louis at 7 pm."
How has this event impacted the local and broader LGBT community?
"PrideFest is a festival which celebrates and unites the St. Louis LGBT community and beyond. It also provides a vehicle for local dignitaries and organizations to show their support for equality and unity. St. Louis is a vibrant and strong LGBT community."
Learn more about this epic event at the PrideFest St. Louis website.