- Associated Press - Thursday, October 19, 2017

ORANGE CITY, Iowa (AP) - A conservative city in northwest Iowa is hosting its first pride festival to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Orange City will host the three-day OC Pride 2017 event starting Friday, the Sioux City Journal reported . The city has a population of about 6,200.

The festival will have dancing, live music, a movie screening, information booths, storytelling and brunch.

The event was arranged by Cody Bauer, Steve Mahr, David Klennert and Mike Goll. Bauer and Mahr are straight married men who view themselves as LGBTQ allies while Klennert and Goll are newlyweds.

“We’ve all wanted to do a pride in Orange City for a really long time,” Bauer said.

Klennert proposed hosting the festival later in the year so it wouldn’t detract from pride events across the country that are held in June, which is Pride Month.

The response to the event has been largely positive, organizers said. They expect about 200 people to attend the event.

Sioux County Conservatives, a political group, has criticized the event for celebrating what they believe the Bible classifies as a sin.

But event organizers say the festival is about family and community.

“There’s not a lot of spaces (for) queer kids and we want to be an event that says we love you, we don’t just tolerate you, we accept you, we want you here and we think who you are is beautiful.” Mahr said.

They say they hope the event brings hope to queer kids who are struggling to be accepted in the conservative area.

“Somebody messaged us and said, ‘If there was an event like this in my town growing up, I probably wouldn’t have tried to commit suicide,’” Mahr said. “That hit to the core of why we want to have something like this in this town; it’s small.”


Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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