Political climate prompts Pride events historically held in downtown Fargo to move to Moorhead

Chelsea Diederich, chair of the FM Pride Planning Committee, said the "legislation in North Dakota was a huge factor" in the decision to move two Pride events across the Red River into Minnesota.

The annual Pride Parade ended in downtown Fargo with speeches in Broadway Square in August 2022.jpg
The annual Pride Parade ended in downtown Fargo with speeches in Broadway Square in August 2022.
C.S. Hagen / The Forum

FARGO — A contentious political climate coupled with safety concerns and summer construction has prompted two Pride events historically held in Fargo to move to Moorhead.

Both Pride in the Park and the Pride Parade, noted as the area's largest rural Pride celebrations, are set to begin in August and will be held in Minnesota and will not enter downtown Fargo.

Chelsea Diederich, chair of the FM Pride Planning Committee, said the change in location stems from a slate of new North Dakota laws targeting transgender people, drag shows and the LGBTQ+ community. Safety concerns, along with event growth and Island Park construction this summer also played a part in the decision.

The FM Pride event begins on Aug. 10, with Pride in the Park starting on Aug. 12 at the Bluestem Center for the Arts, 801 50th Ave., S., Moorhead.

The Pride Parade , which last year was attended by thousands of people in downtown Fargo, will follow on Aug. 13 at the corner of 28th Avenue South and 20th Street and finish near Romkey Park, according to social media posts and Eventbrite.


The decision to move wasn’t an easy one, but “ultimately the safety of our community was the number one concern,” Diederich said.

"It's more important than ever to advocate for our community, stand up for people who were and continue to be targeted by hateful legislation and come together to protect and celebrate," a Facebook post from Fargo-Moorhead Pride said.

Diederich said the committee began planning for the summer events in December and saw the "horrific bills targeting North Dakota residents" and members of the community.

“The legislation in North Dakota was a huge factor (in the decision to move)," Diederich said.

Participants in Pride Parade 2022 pose for a photograph in downtown Fargo.jpg
Participants in Pride Parade 2022 pose for a photograph in downtown Fargo before the march began.
C.S. Hagen / The Forum

North Dakota's recent legislative session — described by some as a session overwhelmed by culture wars — saw lawmakers push a wave of anti-transgender legislation, leaving many in the LGBTQ+ community feeling unsafe and under attack.

The Republican-backed bills include criminalizing gender-affirming care for minors and prohibiting transgender females from joining female sports teams in K-12 and college . One of the last bills signed during the legislative session also prohibits transgender K-12 students from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity and bars schools from adopting policies that require or prohibit “any individual from using a student's preferred gender pronoun.”

Other failed pieces of legislation included a bill that sought to ban drag shows on public property and in the presence of children, and a bill limiting high school student's ability to join extracurricular clubs . Opponents told a Senate panel it could have impeded students joining a gay/straight alliance club, to support LGBTQ students.

Rynn Willgohs, a transgender woman and founder of TRANSport, a nonprofit organization that helps other trans people in the U.S. emigrate to more hospitable countries, said the recent legislation and political climate has made her scared.


She has received death threats and bomb threats because of who she is and her willingness to voice her opinions publicly.

“I’ve been sent pictures of my house saying they were going to blow it up,” Willgohs said. “They want us dead and we’re easy targets.”

Willgohs is also concerned about recent legislation, some of which passed and has become law. She is planning to meet with city leaders soon to discuss the interpretation and enforcement of the new laws, especially the law targeting drag shows.

“As the political climate deteriorates even more against us, it will be dangerous just to live. I am actively doxxed, threatened with rape, murder and torture, and I don’t even have an agenda. And it’s going to get worse,” Willgohs said.

The committee has contemplated a move to Moorhead in recent years, Diederich said, due to the events' “immense growth,” and construction this year at Island Park.

“Logistically, we are still finalizing event details, but we are excited to hold two of our major community events in Minnesota this year," Diederich said. "With that said, we belong in North Dakota and we are not leaving. We will still hold events in private event spaces in the community where many of us work and live."

C.S. Hagen is an award-winning journalist currently covering the education and activist beats mainly in North Dakota and Minnesota.
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