Mid-Missouri Pridefest celebrates 50th anniversary of Stonewall riots

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COLUMBIA - Pride is coming to Rose Music Hall Saturday.

The free event kicks off at 1 p.m. with stage performances going on all day. There will also be carnival games, button-making, a scavenger hunt and a photobooth.

Unlike traditional Pride, which takes place in June to honor the Stonewall riots that launched the gay liberation movement, Pridefest celebrates in August to accomodate college students coming to Columbia who may not feel comfortable going to June pride in their hometowns.

“Pride is important to showcase all of the great things of the LGBTQ+ community,” Kiessence Bassett, a Pridefest volunteer, said. “Pride celebrations are a breath of fresh air.”

Despite being two months later, Pridefest still aims to honor the Stonewall riots. This year’s theme is “persist with pride,” and new to the 2019 festival is a LGBTQ history tent showcasing the past fifty years of LGBTQ accomplishments.

“We’re definitely trying to focus in on the roots of our movement,” Melina Constantine Miseo, a coordinator at The Center Project, said. “And highlighting people of color, trans people of color, who were really the forefront of that movement."

In addition to showcasing national history, the tent is also hoping to preserve local history. There will be a book where people can write about their own experiences which will be available at future Pridefests as well.

“Unfortunately, mid-Missouri history [on LGBTQ people] is harder to find,” Miseo said. “So we’re trying to develop our own history, and start a collection of it.”

Another new area this year is the family tent, geared toward young people and LGBTQ couples with children.

“A lot of Pride unfortunately is centered around alcohol and drinking and obviously teens can’t participate in that, and we don’t want them to participate in that,” Miseo said. “We want to give them an avenue to have fun safely and be with their peers.”

A full list of performances is available on Pridefest’s website.