Grand Cities Pride celebrates its second year
Ryan Johnson – 05/30/2009
More than 150 people stopped by the town square in downtown Grand Forks on Saturday afternoon for the second annual Grand Cities Pride. The event was a celebration for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, or GLBT, people from all around the region. Multiple vendors and display tables set up around the area to provide information and help get the message out to the public. MJ Kroll and Alicia Leafgreen, both from Minneapolis, were at the afternoon celebration and performed at a drag show at Sensations later in the night. Kim Jorgensen, co-chair of Grand Cities Pride, said things went pretty well Saturday. One nice thing was the sunny, warm day — she said it snowed in the morning May 10, 2008, when the first pride was held in the city. But besides enjoying the pleasant weather, Jorgensen said the event was for anyone in the region to have a good time and help spread awareness. “It’s really important to bring some visibility to Grand Forks,” she said. “There is a GLBT presence in Grand Forks. This is a celebration that we’re prideful.” Jorgensen said the event is fairly new and organizers are always looking to make the next one bigger and better. A meeting is scheduled at 2 p.m. today at Mamma Maria’s in East Grand Forks for anyone interested in helping plan next year’s event. For more information or to offer to help, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.grandcitiespride.com. Presence everywhere Chris Stoner, the other co-chair of Grand Cities Pride, said this year’s pride featured more events but was pretty comparable to the celebration in 2008. He was hopeful that the event would let everybody relax and enjoy the day together. “I think we just wanted people to come and have a day to celebrate, to have a good time and not worry about all the ugly stuff that’s out there,” he said. Becky Saltzman, a native of Minneapolis and the diversity and inclusion coordinator of the Minnesota GLBTA Campus Alliance, was at the town square to provide more information on efforts her group is taking at universities across the region. It was her first time in Grand Forks, and said she really enjoyed the “community-based” pride here compared with the sometimes overtly corporate prides in larger cities. “People seem to want to come here… to be with the people,” she said. Saltzman said it’s important for people to know that the GLBT community does have a presence everywhere, even in smaller towns or rural areas. It’s also important for gays or lesbians in these communities to be proud, she said. “If you go into a community expecting not be supported, the only person laying down is yourself,” she said. “People who identify as GLBT are everywhere. We’re not just in Hollywood and not just in the arts.” Reach Johnson at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.