Local LGBTQ+ community and allies gather in the thousands to celebrate Idaho Falls Pride - East Idaho News
Idaho Falls

Local LGBTQ+ community and allies gather in the thousands to celebrate Idaho Falls Pride

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IDAHO FALLS — About two thousand people gathered to attend and march in the 12th annual Idaho Falls Pride celebration Saturday morning.

This year’s parade and festival centered on the theme “Reflections of Pride.”

“People need to know that wherever they are, they’re fine. So I think that’s important too,” Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper said during the parade.

Casper marched alongside Idaho Falls City Councilman John Radford, who added his support for the LGBTQ+ community.

“We’re here to support pride, and we’re excited that they feel welcome in our community,” Radford said. “We’re really grateful for all their talents that they bring to our community, and (we’re) here to support them.”

GALLERY: Thousands participate in Idaho Falls Pride on Saturday

The parade started at the Unitarian Universalist Church, crossed through the Idaho Falls Greenbelt River Walk across the Broadway bridge to the Westbank Convention Center and finished back at the stage next to Memorial Drive and E Street.

“I’m nonbinary, so pride means a lot to me to see all of us representing ourselves as our true selves. It’s very important to be authentic and true to yourself,” said Mel Campbell, a parade participant.

Following the parade, a family-friendly festival continued with music and performers from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“It’s important to have this gathering here in Idaho Falls because it’s hard to find your community in Idaho Falls as an LGBTQIA person, and there’s not a lot of safe spaces for people who are not straight right now in the community,” Idaho Falls Pride development director Kelly McCary said.

McCary presented local activist Theron McGriff with the Idaho Falls Pride Community Award.

Theron McGriff
Theron McGriff | David Pace, EastIdahoNews.com

Claire Pincock brought her family to support Saturday’s event.

“Pride means a lot to me,” she said. “I have a lot of family members who are queer. I’m queer, and just the ability for people to get to be who they are without fear, it means everything to me. I would do anything to make sure that people feel like they belong in this world and they belong with their community.”

Pride events will continue Sunday at 2 p.m., when a Rainbow Narratives Question and Answer forum will be held at The Art Museum Of Eastern Idaho.

Finally, Chukars Pride Night will be held on Friday, June 28 with tickets available online or at the stadium.

The event was preceded by an adult’s only drag show on Friday at the Westbank Convention Center.

McCary acknowledged pride events can be controversial in Idaho, but said organizers are confident in moving forward anyway.

“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion,” she said. “We ensure that our events are safe. … For the most part, we just do our thing, and we let everybody else do theirs.”

Very few protesters were noted along the route.

Volunteers from Christ Community Church were passing out Christian literature along the River Walk and said they were previously unaware the pride celebration was occurring Saturday.

“I do appreciate that we have free speech in this country, that people are free to express their lifestyles and opinions in public without fear of retribution,” Carl Pearson said. “It’s not a lifestyle that I would agree with or endorse, but I very much respect people’s right to live that lifestyle if that is their decision.”

Amy Taylor helped found Open Arms of Idaho after her son Jackson came out as gay when he was 14-years-old.

They started off taking him to youth groups in Utah, she said.

“He loved it so much finding kids like him that he decided we needed something here,” Taylor said.

Today, the “Rainbow Youth” group meets from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. every third Wednesday at the Community Youth in Action building on 574 4th Street. It is for LGBTQ+ youth ages 14 to 18 and their allies. A separate Parent Support Group is held during the same time for parents as well.

“(It’s) for parents who maybe are struggling with how to support your child because the statistics show that if an LGBTQ kid has support of one adult in their life, their chance of suicide decreases 40%,” Taylor said.

Open Arms of Idaho is designed for both youth and parents to navigate the difficult space between religious faith and sexual orientation, said board member Jason Cooper, who has had a son and father come out to him as gay.

“It’s great for us to understand that we’re not alone in this, that there are others like us, and that there is a way for our children to thrive and for us to accept them and just be there for them,” Cooper said.

Idaho Falls Pride parade
Pride parade participants wind their way around the Snake River Saturday morning. | David Pace, EastIdahoNews.com
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David Pace, EastIdahoNews.com