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Pride Fest, family style: Kid-friendly events at the 49th Iowa City Pride Festival

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Crowds cheer on performers at the 2018 Iowa City Pride Festival. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

This Pride Month marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a monumental moment in LGBTQ rights history. Major legislative and social strides have been made since Stonewall, but many in the LGBTQ community still face barriers to representation and celebration of their identities, including youth and families.

“I feel like the harshness that is coming from the administration [is] trickling down,” said Chris Hawes, the community outreach coordinator for Iowa City Pride. “It kind of comes to roost in things like trying to censor children’s shows to exclude any mention of LGBTQ people, like in mass media and pop culture, and when there’s an attempt to kind of wash the LGBTQ element out.”

The 49th annual Iowa City Pride Parade and Festival, taking place Saturday, June 15, will offer plenty of events and booths to help families and children participate in Pride.

“We just want to be able to demonstrate that there really is stuff for everyone and that includes families and that includes children,” Hawes said.

Drag Storytime

Iowa City Public Library
10:30 a.m.

Drag Storytime will kick off the festivities Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Iowa City Public Library, wrapping up in time for the Pride Parade at noon. Eight local drag kings and queens — including 2019 Miss Iowa City, Hazy Buchanan; Chey Boi, this year’s Mr. Studio 13; and the reigning Miss Iowa Diva USofA, Kilda Mann — will read LGBTQ-centered stories to children and families.

“The kids dance and play around. Little boys are playing with boas and little girls are putting on cowboy hats,” Hawes said. “Everything is just non-gendered.”

The library’s book mobile will also be parked at Pride.

Draglings Show

Festival stage, Washington Street
1:30 p.m.

Saturday will mark the second year United Action for Youth has collaborated with local drag performers to create the Draglings Youth Show.

“IC Pride wanted to expand and include more youth in the Pride Celebration,” said Kai Kiser, a youth development and outreach specialist with Americorps, in a message to Little Village. “Local drag performers have volunteered their time to help our youth learn the art of drag and sign up for the show.”

The kids will perform on the main stage at 1:30 p.m.

In addition, United Action for Youth staff will have a booth and hand out positive affirmations as they march in the parade.

“LGBTQIA+ youth are at a heightened risk for suicide, suicidal ideation, self-harm, homelessness and bullying,” Kiser said. “Something as simple as having a community and a few supportive adults can make a huge difference in reducing these risk factors.”

2019 Iowa City Pride Fest and Parade map — Iowa City Pride

Family Fun Space

Corner of Washington and Linn Streets
Noon to 10 p.m.

A new event this year is the Family Fun Space. Presented by husbands Paul and Chad Clark, this area for families will feature props and backgrounds with which to take photos. There will also be a magician, balloon art, inflatables, face painting, rainbow hula hoops and materials for flag dancing.

The Clarks moved to the Iowa City area from Los Angeles three years ago. Last year, they attended Pride, but didn’t feel like there was a variety of things their children could participate in. They decided to get involved and offer an interactive area for kids.

“We just want to make a safe space for anybody and everybody,” Paul said.

“And show the world that gay people have families,” added Chad.

The 2018 Iowa City Pride Parade weaves through downtown Iowa City. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

“The Little Boy Who Grew Up to Be Cher”

The Englert Theatre
3:45 p.m.

Candi Stratton, a professional performer and Cher impersonator from the Quad Cities and Miss Trans USA, will give a talk titled “The Little Boy Who Grew Up to Be Cher,” focused on her experience growing up as a transgender woman. Dr. Katie Larson Ode, founder of the pediatric transgender clinic at the University of Iowa, will join Stratton on the Englert stage to discuss the challenges faced by trans youth.

Pride Parade and vendor fair

Downtown Iowa City
Parade begins at noon; vendor fair runs from noon to 10 p.m.

Iowa City’s Pride Parade will follow a new route this year, but will be as colorful and family friendly as ever. A number of groups that advocate on behalf of children will walk in the parade and/or offer information and goodies at the vendor fair, including Free Mom Hugs, PFLAG of Cedar Rapids, Students Against School Shootings and Moms Demand Action.


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