When it comes to Pride, size doesn’t matter.
One needn’t hop on an international flight to São Paulo and party with five million other LGBT—and LGBT-friendly—people in order to have some quality summer fun. In fact, some of the best Prides in the country are probably right around the corner from you.
InterPride, an international organization linking Prides all around the world, told The Daily Beast that the three smallest InterPride member events in the United States take place in Kenosha, Wisconsin; Cape Cod, Massachusetts; and Los Ranchos, New Mexico.
Granted, there are technically smaller Prides out there: Not every Pride is a member of InterPride. And if you get sick of the June heat, you can always travel down to Antarctica to celebrate Pride Month with approximately 10 LGBT people this year.
But Kenosha, Cape Cod, and Los Ranchos all embody something special that can be found in almost every state: a small Pride event that has less of a nonstop party atmosphere and more of a friendly, community vibe.
“I think it speaks to the character of the community,” said Sean Young, Vice President of Kenosha Pride, about being one of the smallest Prides. “Even though we’re small, we still have a very active LGBT presence.”
Kenosha Pride—held this year on July 15–gathers about five hundred people in together for a march through the city’s downtown, followed by a festival at a public park. For the adults, local gay bar Club Icon sponsors a beer tent. Kids can play in the bounce house. And there’s even a special area just for pets, co-sponsored by Illinois pet groomer Peace, Paws & Harmony.
“It’s totally a family affair,” said Young.
Kenosha, Wisconsin is situated about halfway between two big cities, both of which boast much larger Pride events: Chicago and Milwaukee. LGBT people in Kenosha still attend these bigger events, Young told The Daily Beast, adding, “But they do ours, too.”
Dan Seaver, President of Kenosha Pride, was part of the original ad hoc planning group for the first Kenosha Pride in 2013 and remembers the enthusiastic response to the idea of an LGBT parade through the mid-size Wisconsin city.
“Once we got the word out this was happening, the community support that came behind it was astounding,” Seaver told The Daily Beast. “We had people in their seventies and eighties commenting that this was something they never thought they would see happen in Kenosha.”
The event has grown since then, but the eight-person board of directors is still all-volunteer, planning the event on weekends and working their full-time jobs during the week. When asked if it’s challenging to pull off an all-volunteer Pride, Seaver and Young both laughed grimly, but the effect on the community makes it all worth it, they say.
“You open people’s eyes and let them see that we are their neighbors, we are their friend’s friends,” said Seaver. “To let them know that we’re no different from anybody else, I think, is important.”
You can read the rest of the story at The Daily Beast.