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Laramie PrideFest returns to celebrate Pride Month in Wyoming

Attendees enjoy the Pride on the Patio event during Laramie PrideFest 2023.
Laramie PrideFest
Attendees enjoy the Pride on the Patio event during Laramie PrideFest 2023.

Laramie’s LGBTQ+ community and their allies are gearing up for a week of celebration, remembrance and dialogue as Laramie PrideFest returns for an eighth year.

The annual fest launches Friday and will feature a diverse array of events across town throughout the weekend and next week. Some of those events, like the Matthew Shepard Candlelight Vigil, are somber, while others, like Thursday night Karaoke at the Great Untamed, are celebratory.

From a family-friendly picnic on Prexy’s Pasture to an adults-only drag show one week later, the week has something for everyone, PrideFest Chair Nicholas Jesse said.

“I’ve been to big city prides, I’ve been to Denver, I’ve been to Santa Fe – but it’s not the same,” he said. “Our events build community, I think, far more than larger cities and I think we should be incredibly proud of that.”

The week culminates next Saturday, when Mayor Brian Harrington is scheduled to read the city’s Pride Month Proclamation from the First Street Plaza downtown. The proclamation will be followed immediately by a march to the courthouse and, later that day, Pride in the Park, a gathering of community, nonprofits and vendors at Washington Park.

This year’s theme is “Blossoming Out West” and is inspired by the prickly pear cactus, a hearty plant with protective needles that’s native to the region. Jesse said it’s an apt metaphor for Wyoming’s queer community.

“These things are incredibly beautiful all year round, but especially when they bloom,” he said. “And that vibrant color kind of reminded me of LGBT rural folks and how hard they have to fight to survive and remain visible.”

Jesse said the focus on resilience is timely. During the most recent session, state lawmakers passed a bill outlawing gender-affirming care for transgender youth and another that could force schools to out gay or trans children to unsupportive families.

While Pride Month has grown to include celebrations, storytelling events and candlelight vigils, it began as a protest against the anti-LGBTQ laws faced by previous generations.

At least 10 other Wyoming communities will host their own Pride Month celebrations this June.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.
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