Fourth annual U.P. Pride Fest attracts hundreds

MARQUETTE — The Fourth Annual U.P. Pride Fest was held this past weekend, attracting hundreds of people from all over the Upper Peninsula. ABC Ten’s Chelsea Birdsall has the details.

“Solidarity. Unity. Community. Everybody coming together in one place to say, ‘Hey, let’s have some fun and let’s show the world that there’s things like this that can happen – change can happen,” said U.P. Rainbow Pride Board Member, PJ Stephens. “People can come together and get along.”

And that’s what U.P. Rainbow Pride Board Members hoped the hundreds of people that came out to the Fourth Annual U.P. Pride Fest took away from the event. Pride Fest kicked off Saturday morning with a rally at the Marquette Commons followed by an all day event at Tourist Park. Once at the park, attendees were greeted with a slew of vendors from crafts and clothes sporting pride merchandise to public health educators and church groups advocating for gay rights.

“This year unlike any other year, we have had the most support and the most vendors come out to support the community,” said Stephens. “The energy is just something palpable right today. It’s been like that for the past few weeks and guaranteed it’s going to bring more people out.”

But amidst the fun and celebration of unity, a moment of silence was held for the trans-individuals that have lost their lives this year.

“I think it’s important to take that moment and recognize that actually happened, that we’re still having those problems. While we’re having fun today, while there’s solidarity, while there’s unity, there’s still people out there who are losing their lives and that’s also what pride fest is about – equality, saving the ones we can, helping the ones that need help and recognizing that while we progress some, there’s still not enough progress, we’re still not where we need to be at,” said Stephens.

Though progress still needs to be made to ensure equality at all, Stephens said seeing everyone in the community come together to support the LGBTQ community is heart-warming.

“This is inspiring. This is something I take to heart, that we all take to heart,” Stephens said. “It’s this collective community response in a time we need equality. We don’t need division, we need an inclusive type of momentum going on in all communities, locally and nationally as well as globally eventually.”

The event went from noon until ten, ending with the annual drag show featuring local talent.