Celebrating Gay Pride Month
"I'll tell you what, it's great to be gay in Columbia," said D.J. Lanza, PrideFest Entertainment Director.
In the past five years PrideFest, hosted by the Mid-Missouri Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Coalition, has seen tremendous growth.
"I think we've got the third biggest in the state," Lanza continued. "We're really proud of it. And like I said, every year we just keep putting the money that we made back into the event. So, it just keeps getting better and better."
He still remembers what it was like when they first thought about starting PrideFest.
"My friends Kevin and Kyler and I came together and went well you know all these big cities have these huge PrideFests. Why can't Columbia have one too?" Lanza said.
And so Columbia's PrideFest was born.
"So it went from 20 people to about 400 people," said Jennifer Baker, PrideFest Co-Chair. "Since then, the Coalition has taken over the sponsorship and it's grown to I think almost a thousand people last year."
Even though the event grows every year, they still have the same message.
"We want people to know gay people are everywhere," said Lanza. "And we're your neighbors. We're your family. And we're normal people."
June is National Gay Pride Month. Springfield's PrideFest is Sunday, June 10, and St. Louis holds their PrideFest on June 23 and 24.