The annual Twin Cities Pride parade kicked off in Minneapolis on Sunday by honoring the Stonewall uprising, which took place 50 years ago.
Marchers leading the parade carried a 30-foot wide banner with the word Stonewall, decorated with signatures, personal experiences and messages to parents and Pride organizers. The Stonewall uprising served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in America.
People filled the parade route with singing and dancing, cheering and support for the region's LGBT community.
This year marked the 47th annual Twin Cities Pride event, with an estimated attendance of more than 300,000 people. It's designed to bring together the LGBT community and allies.
Grow the Future of Public Media
MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!
Parade organizers said on Sunday that attendance seemed to be up at this year's parade, despite an altered route because of downtown construction.
For Darcie Baumann, board chair of Twin Cities Pride, the festival brings back powerful memories of the first time she attended the Twin Cities Pride Festival in the late 1990s.
"I didn't want the weekend to end," she recalled. It was the first time she'd experienced "that feeling of belonging," she said, "just to see all of the people who were not judgmental. You didn't have to worry about being yourself. You could say what you wanted to say and not have to play the pronoun game. I found resources there that I didn't know were available. And finding those resources, I found validity in who I was."
That experience of not being alone is a common Pride festival story, Baumann said, and one that motivates her to continue organizing the event. Those resources that Baumann found so helpful continue to be available. The festival includes over 400 exhibitor booths.
While the 50th anniversary of Stonewall is a big marker, Baumann was quick to stress that leadership of the local event has diversified considerably since it started.
"That's a big sticking point for people. They all think it's the gay white cis males that run the organization," said Baumann, adding that's not the case for Twin Cities Pride. She cited the racial, gender and age diversity of the Pride board, and added that board meetings were open to everyone.
That focus on inclusiveness and diversity is apparent in other ways as well. The event is wheelchair accessible, including ADA seating for concerts. ASL interpreters are available, and the festival grounds include an autism tent where people can escape for a sensory break.
The festival will include family friendly events, although Baumann advised taking a close look at the event map. "There are areas where you may not want to bring your children, but we have that all segregated in one area," said Baumann.
Correction (June 25, 2019): Darcie Baumann was misidentified in an earlier version of this story.