If you’ve never attended St. Louis’ annual PrideFest, you may not be familiar with the organization that makes this celebration happen. Pride St. Louis is celebrating its own milestone anniversary in 2014—June 28-29 will mark the 35th anniversary of PrideFest in St. Louis.
Pride St. Louis, Inc. grew from the St. Louis Lesbian & Gay Pride Celebration Committee, which was formed in 1979-1980. Since the first celebration in April of 1980, Pride St. Louis has been working to foster an environment of inclusiveness and acceptance in the St. Louis area. It’s a 501(c)(3) organization, and is run entirely by volunteers.
The mission of Pride St. Louis, Inc. is, “To foster an understanding of and equality for the LGBT community in the general population by raising awareness through educational programs and events ultimately leading up to the annual PrideFest in St. Louis.” This festival is held during the last weekend in June to cap off LGBT Pride Month. It’s a beautiful, colorful celebration of diversity that welcomes everyone in the community. Additionally, Pride St. Louis also manages a scholarship program for LGBT students.
Many areas of St. Louis City have hosted PrideFest over the last 30 years, but in 2013 the festival made a historic move to downtown St. Louis. Mayor Francis Slay welcomed the festival by saying that “Downtown was built by St. Louisans who liked a great parade. Over the years, we have celebrated heroes, champions, victories, and holidays on downtown’s wide streets and plazas. With the public buildings, including the magnificent new Peabody Opera House and Central Library, as backdrops, the pictures are going to be dramatic. I am very pleased to welcome Pride St. Louis and our parade to the city’s best parade route.”
This brings me to what I love most about St. Louis’ PrideFest… the parade! I’ve had the pleasure of participating in the parade for the last seven years, and I don’t plan to stop now. I consider St. Louis’ Pride Parade to be the most festive parade all year, and I wouldn’t miss it. Weather is not a factor—you can’t rain on this parade!
None of the Pride festivities would be possible without the dedicated volunteers who help make these events happen. Pride St. Louis also hosts several events during the year to raise funds in support of the festival and scholarship program, and these events require volunteers as well. Each year, over 300 volunteers are needed. It’s easy to sign up, and there’s still time to get involved with the 2014 PrideFest! Simply visit the Pride St. Louis website and fill out the volunteer interest form. Questions about volunteering may be directed to Wolf Smith, the Director of Volunteers, at [email protected].
I’m celebrating G/L STL 25 by volunteering at PrideFest on 2.5 days in June, and I hope to see you there!