The sound of a distant guitar filled my ears as I filtered through a decent-sized crowd of people covered in various-colored glitter and wearing shirts baring pride flags, and as the sun beat down on my back, I instantly regretted dressing in black leggings.
Mid-Missouri Pride was a small event compared to the two day festivals I attended in my hometown of St. Louis, but what it lacked in size it made up in spirit. The pride that radiated from fellow attendees, whether it be the older men holding hands or six-year-old girl with a shirt that read “I love my dads,” filled me with joy and happiness. Not only did the event have a great lineup of vendors (including Shivers Shaved Ice and Smokin’ Chick’s BBQ), but effectively showcased the many organizations and resources for the LGBT+ community in Columbia. The new Planned Parenthood of Columbia invited passerbys to sign a petition asking for emergency contraceptives on Mizzou campus, and The Counseling Hub gave out information on their individual and couple counseling. One organization was offering free HIV/AIDS testing, and another free blood pressure checks.
Vendors such as Fluffy Suds Baaath Co. sold anything and everything that could be adorned by or shaped into rainbows, as well as pride flags and even tablecloths with feminist quotes on them.
After wandering through the small intersection blocked off for the event, I made my way to the outdoor amphitheater of Rose Music Hall, where The Adaptation was finishing up their set, soon to be followed by Vigil and Thieves. I took a minute to sit down, absorbing the environment around me and listening to the band on stage. After a few songs, I decided that Vigil and Thieves wasn’t my type of band; they worked well as an ensemble, but the lead singer’s vocals were a little too shrill for my taste. Deciding to move on, I headed toward the food trucks, where I purchased a strawberry and watermelon shaved ice from Shivers. Although I was tempted by their “Pride Special,” a combination of three flavors to create a look of a rainbow, I stuck with my tried and true and was not disappointed. The small business reminded me of my favorite snow cone shack at home, and I was thoroughly pleased by the juice-to-ice ratio.
Due to the absurd amount of heat and my poor choice of clothing, I left after an hour or so, but not before watching a performance by Quorus, Columbia’s LGBTQ chorus. They gave a heartwarming performance, singing songs such as “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten and “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge.
My time at Mid-Missouri Pride not only gave me plenty of free souvenirs to decorate my dorm room with, but a true taste of the community and togetherness available in Columbia.
Edited by Siena DeBolt | firstname.lastname@example.org