FARGO — Because of construction on Broadway, this year’s Fargo-Moorhead Pride Parade has a different route from past years.
Participants in the annual celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and/or queer (LGBTQ) community will line up in the east parking lot at the Moorhead Center Mall, then head west on Center Avenue over the Red River into Fargo on NP Avenue. At Fourth Street, the route will head north for two blocks, ending at the Fargo Civic Center where a rally will start as the parade ends.
FM Pride Planning Committee Chair Christina Lindseth doesn’t mind the change. In fact, she hopes the annual Pride events, which kick off Thursday, Aug. 8, and continue through Sunday, Aug. 11, face even more changes.
Over the past five years, Pride events have grown so much they’ve needed to find new spaces. Youth events like Friday night’s drag show found a suitably sized home in The Stage at Island Park in Fargo, and Saturday’s family-friendly Pride in the Park event outgrew Moorhead's Davy Park and needed the extra room at Fargo’s Island Park.
The biggest change over the past five years, Lindseth says, has been the celebration’s growth.
“That reflects the continual growth in acceptance and unity in celebrating with us year after year,” she says.
In 2018, the parade had 29 registrants. As of Monday night, 51 groups, businesses and organizations had signed up to march on Sunday, and Lindseth said that number would likely increase.
The number of sponsorships is now up to 41, six more than last year, and 153 vendors had registered for Pride in the Park, up nine from 2018.
She says a number of recent factors have led to more involvement.
“Marriage equality was a huge catalyst in people feeling more accepted and out and opening,” says Lindseth, who is engaged to her partner of seven years, Sheri Kaseman, who is also part of the planning committee.
While that news story was a joyous one and gave those in the LGBTQ community reason to celebrate and look forward, other tragic events, including the June 12, 2016, shooting that killed 49 people at a Florida nightclub, reminded people that there was still much to overcome.
“Unfortunately, the Orlando (Pulse nightclub) shooting opened people’s eyes to how the community is targeted,” she said.
With two national mass shootings within the past week, some may have concerns over being out in public, but Lindseth praises the local LGBTQ community’s strong relationship with the Fargo Police Department and its LGBTQ liaison officer for making Pride events safe for all.
In June, the country marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York, which gave rise to the modern gay rights movement.
While there were events commemorating the big anniversary in Fargo, Lindseth says there is still much to do in gaining equality — even within the LGBTQ community.
“It speaks to how far we’ve come with certain things, but how far we need to go, because some of the first leaders of this movement are still the one struggling the most,” she says. “Transgender people of color are still the most marginalized group in the LGBTQ community.”
To mark Stonewall, cities across the country started LGBTQ Pride parades in late June, and June Pride events are now common in places around America. But Fargo-Moorhead has pushed its own celebration back to allow people to attend the bigger one in Minneapolis at that time.
In turn, FM Pride, now in its 19th year, sees an influx in participants from across North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and even the Canadian provinces Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Visitors will find a Pride week where everyone feels welcome, Lindseth says. She’s excited to see Free Mom Hugs, a group of women offering open arms and support to those that may be shut out and alienated from their own family, at this week’s events.
“Seeing children and parents come for the first time and seeing that there is a community that will support them throughout the year, not just this one week, I’ve seen kids and parents come for the first time and take in the youth events or the parade and they are awestruck. Those moments that you can see on an individual basis, that is success,” she says.
In addition to that, she’d like to see FM Pride continue to grow in terms of participation and financial strength so that the annual event can continue. She’d also like to see more interaction with area schools and gay-straight alliances and youth groups like Kaleidoscope to showcase year-round programming.
“That’s really what it’s about,” she says. “This is a week of, ‘Yay! We are here and we exist.’ That’s important, but it matters what happens outside of this week as well for people to feel comfortable to be themselves.”
If you go
What: Fargo-Moorhead Pride Parade
When: 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11
Where: The procession starts at the corner of Seventh Street North and Center Avenue in Moorhead and ends in a rally at the Fargo Civic Center, 207 Fourth St. N.
Info: For a guide to all FM Pride events, go to https://fmpride.com/