Pride parades and events are a way to celebrate civil rights for the LGBTQ+ community.
Usually, these parades take place in major cities, but now small towns like Leadville, Colorado, and Manitou Springs, Colorado, are starting their very first Pride events.
The Pride celebrations popping up in smaller cities and towns often take cues from the original marches, which were political protests in major cities that go back 50 years to commemorate the Stonewall Riots. But today, these smaller events focus more on celebration, promoting visibility and making residents feel safe.
Kittie Kilner, who organized Pridefest in Manitou Springs, Colorado, wants residents to feel at home in small towns and cities like hers, not just major urban centers.
"I would hope to see a Pride in every town and every city – why wouldn't there be? We have festivals all throughout the year, why can't we have a Pride in every town? There should be," Kilner said.
And it's happening everywhere.
Earlier this month the small town of Grand Haven, Michigan, organized its first Pride event, hoping for at least 500 people. They ended up with 11,000 people attending.
Nadine Bridges, with One Colorado, says usually these small towns are in conservative counties. But it speaks volumes that the counties are granting permits to LGBTQ+ organizers to celebrate Pride Month.
"It takes a lot of courage to walk into your town council or whoever is handing out permits and say 'I want to celebrate LGBTQ+,'" Bridges said. "And to see someone on the other side who may not be a person that would be an ally would say 'Yeah that's okay, that's alright, and we're going to make sure to do the things we need to do to ensure that you're safe.'"
Advocacy groups say other towns can learn from places like Manitou Springs, and maybe next year have even more Pride events in other small communities.
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