spokane pride festival
Pride rainbow mural in front of Riverfront Park where the two-day Spokane Pride Festival will take place. / Photo by Matthew Danielson (Contributed)

Spokane Pride Kicks Off Two-Day Festival, Supported by Faith Groups

Spokane Pride Kicks Off Two-Day Festival, Supported by Faith Groups

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News Story by Emma Ledbetter

Spokane Pride kicks off today (June 9), featuring a two-day festival with five stages worth of entertainment, a safe zone for youth and 14 food trucks. 

The event begins Friday with a Two-Spirit Powwow from 1-5 p.m., followed by a drag show kickoff party at 6 p.m., said Spokane Pride President Matthew Danielson. 

Saturday’s festivities begin at noon with the pride parade to Riverfront Park, where the rest of the festival will take place from 1-6 p.m. The pavilion area of the park will be cordoned off during this time for youth ages 13-18. There will be additional programming, including karaoke, after 6 p.m. for people who want to stay at Riverfront Park longer. 

Organizers expect over 50,000 people to attend Spokane Pride this year. The number of people attending the event has been steadily increasing since before COVID-19. 

“Pride is so psychologically important because LGBTQ+ people don’t have a lot of communal spaces,” Danielson said. “Pride is like that magical day where we’re just a mesh of community and get to see everybody we know all at once.”

Countering Protesters

Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people have been rising, according to the Marshall Project. Despite that, Spokane Pride has remained relatively safe. 

Danielson said he expects more anti-LGBTQ+ protesters than last year, when Coeur d’Alene and Spokane Pride were on the same day. Pride attendees are encouraged not to engage with protesters, who will be restricted to certain areas. There will be a marching band to cover the sound of protesters, and PEACE Angels will block them visually. 

More open and affirming religious groups have been attending Pride festivals around the U.S. this year as part of a Faith for Pride movement created by the Interfaith Alliance.

Veradale United Church of Christ Rev. Gen Heywood said she has noticed more religious groups tabling and participating in the Spokane Pride parade in recent years. 

“To me, this shows some hope,” Heywood said. “As awful and evil as the negative folks can be, and as terrible as it is that they get so much attention, we can move that attention to the people we see there who are supportive.”

With recent homophobic and transphobic comments made by religious people and groups in Spokane, Heywood said it is especially important for allies to speak up. It is the responsibility of people of faith to speak up to extremists of their faith who are perpetuating bigotry, she said. 

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