Bowling Green celebrates inaugural Pride Festival

Mason Davis

Bowling Green held its inaugural Pride Festival on Saturday, Oct. 21 in Circus Square Park. The event, hosted by Bowling Green Fairness, had approximately 1000 people in attendance throughout the day, according to one report.

Vendors and tables were placed around the park. Various local groups were set up to sell t-shirts, pins and other goods and to share information with those at the event.

There were tables hosted by WKU organizations such as the Queer Student Union and their Trans and Nonbinary sub-group, and representatives from the Student Government Association.

“Pride means that the community can be together,” said Oldham County freshman Mark Clark, who sold pins and bracelets to fundraise for the trans and nonbinary group. He said he had spent the whole day working, and had been been preparing for the pride festival for months.

There were several bands that played, along with a DJ who spun pop remixes throughout the day.

A drag show was slated for 3 p.m. with queens and one drag king performing to songs. They lip-synced and danced in glittering costumes, taking tips from the audience.

Drag performer Lily McQueen Fitzgerald was the master of ceremonies for the event. In between announcing performers and speaking on stage, she walked the crowd, taking selfies with attendees.

“Pride means glamour,” said Fitzgerald. She struck a pose and looked off dramatically before giving an earnest answer. “Pride means love. That’s the most basic answer you’re going to get from anyone, but that’s really it. Pride is love.”

In addition to the planned festivities, an impromptu wedding took place at the festival. Corporal Jonathan Lovelace of Santa Monica California married Kristin Blanchard of Bowling Green.

Lovelace and Blanchard were planning on getting married that day, but they could not find someone to officiate, and a friend suggested they try to find someone at Pride. The idea built, and they ended up getting married on the main stage, with the wedding officiated by Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash.

The couple said they originally intended for a small ceremony, but were excited to be able to marry in such a way.

“What started out as something that was going to be discrete ended up becoming probably the most appropriate way for us to do the wedding,” said Lovelace.

Nash, who is currently the only city commissioner in favor of the fairness ordinance, was available due to his presence at Pride anyways. He was there to give a speech on stage and another later on at city hall. He said he was in great support of the event.

“To think that a year ago so few people were having even a conversation about Fairness in the city of Bowling Green,” said Nash. “To advance a year and see so many people out at the pride festival is not only encouraging, for the advancement of the fairness ordinance, but in my opinion, encouraging for all of humanity.”

A small group of protesters gathered by the fest, holding a sign and speaking into a bullhorn. Counter-protesters drowned them out with sirens on megaphones. The protesters moved in front of the stage, where the DJ proceeded to play music loudly, and pride attendees danced around.

The protesters left at that point, but returned later on. During this time they were visibly blocked out by attendees holding pride flags, and the outstretched white train of one drag queen’s dress.

The Pride Festival ended at 5 p.m. with a march from the fest to City Hall. Pride participants spilled out from the sidewalk onto the street, listening to Patricia Minter and others speak on fairness. The passionate crowd cheered and demanded the passing of the protective ordinance.

Following the march and the festival was the “Love Takes Over” pride crawl, which highlighted local LGBT+ friendly businesses. The crawl featured drink specials and drag performances.

There was a steady sentiment and expectation throughout those present to continue Bowling Green Pride annually.