Laramie will host its second annual Pride celebration at the end of June. Laramie PrideFest will begin with a proclamation of Pride Month by the Laramie City Council Tuesday, June 26.
It will go on to feature 15 different events, including a film festival, a dance night, an interfaith service, an open mic night, and the discussion of a new mural in town. The piece downtown depicts “action angels” who used large angel wings made from fabric to block Westboro Baptist Church protesters at the Matthew Shepard murder trial.
Robert West, the founder and organizer of PrideFest, said the entire event celebrating the LGBT community is bigger this year.
“The number of events that we’re doing, but also the events that we did last year we’re expecting that they are just going to grow in size. We’re really just trying to make this a community event,” said West.
In 2017, PrideFest lasted two days, though this year it spans four. West said the growth stemmed from community demand.
“Laramie is just itching and wanting this kind of programming and this sort of event, and so we’re going to try and give it to them,” he said.
The final event Sunday will be a candlelight vigil for Matthew Shepard on the University of Wyoming Campus. West said it will be a way to center the whole experience.
“We come from a really troubled past particularly in Laramie around queer people’s experiences and the violence that they face, and also the violence that queer people face around the world. And so just kind of centering that real reality -- that we still are not fully where we need to be,” he said.
2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the murder of gay UW student Matthew Shepard.
PrideFest is sponsored by the Shepard Symposium, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and Wyoming Equality, and runs June 28 through July 1.