ST. LOUIS — The Gateway Arch served as the backdrop for the Grand Pride Parade, an epic march in support of the LGBTQIA+ community. The procession started at the corner of 8th and Market Streets, and ran through the Pridefest grounds, before wrapping up at the intersection of Market at 15th Street.
Thousands of people were on hand to see the creative talents of those involved in the parade. St. Louis City Mayor Tishaura Jones was on hand to express her support for the community.
What would become known as the “St. Louis Lesbian & Gay Pride Celebration Committee” was born in 1979, but the first St. Louis Pride Celebration didn’t occur until 1980. The event was sponsored by the Magnolia Committee – named for the street where the majority of the members lived and had their meetings. Their combined effort with a second organization resulted in a weeks worth of activities held in April of 1980. At the end of the week, hundreds gathered for “The Lesbians and Gays Walk for Charity” which progressed down Lindell Boulevard in the Central West End to Washington University’s quadrangle. These two groups combined to become the St. Louis Lesbian & Gay Pride Celebration Committee.
During the same time, writer Jim Thomas invited representatives from organizations around town to begin discussions for an annual celebration. It was to be held in June as a tribute to the Stonewall Riots, which occurred the last weekend of June in 1969. Each participating organization, still able to keep their identity in individual events, would form a larger group – thereby creating a greater whole. At the time, the celebration consisted of a picnic in the beginning of the week and a march at the end.
Thus began a tradition which is still strong today in St. Louis. June is now officially recognized as LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and since the first PrideFest in 1981, St. Louis’ own event has grown in size, attendance, and scope. A Pride Festival takes on a huge importance for our community because it allows people to feel proud of who they are. We provide them a safer place to be who they wish to be, and that empowerment can be a life-altering experience.
Video by Fox 2 News