Let the rainbow flags fly: 2nd annual Pride Fest

Kat Klawes

The 2nd annual Pride Fest was held Saturday, Sept. 12, in Tourist Park in Marquette. Pride Fest was hosted by the Upper Peninsula Rainbow Pride group and held three free events from 11 a.m. to midnight.re-Pride Fest

Pride Fest began with a Pride Walk at 11 a.m. from the Marquette Commons to Tourist Park. Jill Malin U.P. Rainbow Pride board member and treasure said that an estimated  “600 people attended the event.”

Malin also said that the mission of U.P. Rainbow Pride is “to bring Pride events to the U.P. to connect all the LGBT organizations located in the U.P. to one central location and to provide support.”

Live entertainment, informational booths, an amateur drag show and a professional drag show were some of the events a part of Pride Fest.

Isaiah Varona a senior accounting major, was one of the professional drag performers at Pride Fest this year and  described the purpose of Pride Fest.

“It’s not about being with gay people,” Varona said. “but being together.”

“[The drag shows are] usually the most popular of Pride Fest events and had over 300 spectators this year,” Malin said.

Justin Case, a professional Marquette drag performer said that drag is for those who would like to dress up in a different gender or in any gender and express themselves.

“There are drag king, drag queen, and all of types in between,” Case said. “It’s about creating costumes, an act and persona that expresses who you are.”

Elena Brooks, one of the professional drag performers who has performed for over 10 years said, “I am a performer. I just live my dream and try to entertain people and try to show people that it is okay to be who you are.”

Brooks said that this Pride Fest has been amazing.

“The support has been phenomenal. I’m blessed to have been able to be a part of it. We still unfortunately face bigotry, slandering, and ridicule. It’s very hard. It’s hard for people like us to embrace what we do because we are so worried about being treated rudely,” Brooks said.

Ricky Peterson, a freshman  economic major has performed in five drag shows.

“My drag name is Izzy Cumminz and I love what I do,” Peterson said.

J.D. Melvin, senior illustration major said that he felt Pride Fest has been successful so far.

“I’m really happy to see a pride event in the U.P.,” Melvin said. “It’s nice to see the diversity brought here. I am a proudly a member of the LGBT community and an NMU student.  I would definitely say that Pride Fest benefits NMU students: it helps show everyone that we can come together and support each other despite our differences, and all be proud of who we are.”

Ethan Abrams a senior english major said that Pride Fest is important.

“There is finally visibility to this community which is crucial to the growth of the community,” Abrams said.

Jill Malin also said that U.P. Rainbow Pride  will be choosing a date for next year’s Pride Fest in the next month.

“Our next meeting is 5 p.m. at CoCo’s Bistro in Marquette on September 21. We welcome new members,” Malin said.

Students interested in learning more about Pride Fest should visit the U.P. Rainbow Pride website at uprainbowpride.com.