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Lincoln's first LGBTQ Pride parade goes virtual
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Lincoln's first LGBTQ Pride parade goes virtual

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Virtual Pride

Star City Pride parade organizers Dan Huntley (from left), Kevin Tjeerdsma and Gretchen Arroyo pose for a photo Friday. After the pandemic hit in March, the trio had to pivot to make the first Star City Pride parade a virtual event with a day of live and taped speakers, entertainment and community-building.

Kevin Tjeerdsma and his husband, Corey Webster, started promoting the idea last summer — the first-ever Star City Pride parade.

They started a GoFundMe to support it.

“It was time,” Tjeerdsma said last week. “I’d organized a Pride march in 2017 with Common Root, PFLAG and Out Nebraska, but there’d never been a parade.”

The idea caught on with the Star City Pride board.

Gretchen Arroyo was named chair of the parade board. Arroyo runs her own corporate event planning company, Luxx Events, so she knew how to work with the city to get permits and organize. She set to work on the logistics.

Star City Pride board vice president Dan Huntley brainstormed with the parade committee.

The parade would be an alternative to the annual Star City Pride Festival, where as many as 3,000 gather over a weekend in June to celebrate LGBTQ people, create community and welcome those who might feel alone in a straight world.

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Everything was set for a route around the state Capitol on June 20 — the 50th anniversary of the country’s first Pride parades following a year after the Stonewall Uprising, the six days of protests that led to the gay rights movement, a turning point that came after a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich, New York.

“It seemed like the stars were aligning,” Huntley said. “We wanted a visible and well-attended march on the exact anniversary of the first Pride march.”

And then came COVID-19.

In April, the Star City Pride board decided to cancel the parade; too much risk gathering so many together. It was a tough decision, Huntley said.

“You could feel all the air leave the room. People felt defeated.”

The parade committee continued to brainstorm.

“You know June is still Pride month and Pride month is going to happen whether there’s a pandemic happening or not,” Tjeerdsma said.

“I told the committee, we can’t lose the momentum of having the inaugural parade,” Arroyo said. “Let’s flip this.”

Huntley had noticed what the Lincoln Children’s Museum had done to keep kids engaged — holding a street parade with costumed superheroes, princesses and cartoon characters waving from the sidewalks as cars slowly passed down P Street.

Maybe they could do something similar.

Arroyo’s idea: “A DIY parade.”

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They came up with a plan, a mix of live video in front of houses decorated for the occasion, interviews with the residents, along with prerecorded submitted videos and, hopefully, livestreaming commentary from viewers, all of it on their Facebook page Saturday.

Last week, the group had videos and commitments to livestream on parade day from 25 individuals and businesses.

“Including the mayor,” Arroyo said. “She’s our grand marshal.”

They had yard signs made to support the cause and raise awareness. So far, 1,000 signs have been sold with more on order.

“It’s a way for people to show their pride at home,” Huntley said.

Participants can also decorate their yards, neighborhoods and businesses for a chance to win raffle prizes donated by parade sponsors.

The videos submitted so far include messages of support from those sponsors and from individuals who answered the question: What does being LGBTQ mean to you?

“We got some really touching responses,” Arroyo said. “And anybody can be involved on parade day, anyone can participate on their own page.”

Administrators will be monitoring the hashtags: #youareenough and #SCPParade2020.

“We’re asking people to flood their own timeline with Pride,” Huntley said.

A week before the parade, at least one person had promised to sing live on June 20.

“And if someone turned in a video that had a drag performance, we would use it,” Huntley said.

The idea is to educate, entertain and bring people together, even when they can’t be together.

The idea is to let people know it’s OK to be themselves, he said.

“And that they have a community that supports them.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7218 or clangekubick@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @TheRealCLK

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Columnist

Cindy Lange-Kubick has loved writing columns about life in her hometown since 1994. She had hoped to become a people person by now, nonetheless she would love to hear your tales of fascinating neighbors and interesting places.

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