Happy weekend, peoples! I’m writing this post on a “tape-delay” Friday evening; hopefully, if the WordPress settings are accurate, this will be delivered to you first thing Saturday morning. Why am I writing this on Friday night and posting it on Saturday morning? Well, I’m going to be very busy not just Saturday morning but all weekend; I’ll talk my to-do list in a moment.
First, though, I want to tell you about a celebration occurring southeast of Madison, in a place called Walworth County. It’s just over 102,000 in population; it’s mostly though not entirely rural; it’s generally conservative in culture; and it’s home to the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater, the Alpine Valley resort and music theater, and the vacation spot Lake Geneva. And on Saturday, it will hold its first ever LGBT “pride fair,” conducted from 10AM to 3PM on the Chamber of Commerce grounds in the county seat of Elkhorn.
The event is being put on by LGBT of Walworth County, a non-profit organization started in 2011 originally to aggregate resources for the LGBT community in Walworth County, reducing the need to venture outside the county for medical services or support. The organization has since expanded to provide other advocacy services and local support, and Saturday’s Pride Fair is the latest aspect of that expansion. While the event does have some support from the populace, there has been some resistance, such as some local businesses preventing the organization from putting up flyers that promote the event on their property (as indicated by this article), a quite unfortunate and shortsighted move by those businesses, in my opinion.
But the LGBT of Walworth County Pride Fair will still go forth on Saturday, being open to everyone and being a place to socialize, learn of local resources, and learn more about and from Walworth County’s LGBT citizens. Hopefully, if some of those attending are apprehensive about coming out and living openly in such a generally conservative region (especially those of the younger set), the fair will remind them that they are not alone, and that others just like them are in their community to lend support. The Pride Fair will probably be a modest event, but here’s hoping that it will become an annual event that creates nothing but positives for Walworth County’s LGBT community and the county as a whole.
The Walworth County event is not the only LGBT event here in Wisconsin this weekend. Heck, it’s a whole darn pride weekend right here in Madison, culminating in Sunday afternoon’s OutReach Pride Parade up State Street and around the Capitol downtown. I’ve experienced the parade and some of its predecessor events a few times in the past, but only as Male Mode Me and only as a spectator (including last year’s parade). Two years ago, I had hoped to dress up as Allison and join in on the fun, but a sudden familial matter lurched me out of the city.
This year, though, unless something else throws a last-minute monkey wrench in my plans, all that will change. I am planning to march in Sunday’s parade and do so as Allison! Yes, it’s true! I purchased a new outfit tonight to wear on Sunday. And while you read this on Saturday morning, I’ll be helping to put together a float for the support organization I’ve become a part of this year. From what I saw earlier this week, our float will be one of 77 entries in the parade, OutReach’s largest parade yet. My afternoon will be busy, too, as I’ll be attending a regularly scheduled group meeting (where pizza will be served *YUM!*).
You’re probably wondering if I am feeling any excitement and nervousness about marching as Allison in Sunday’s parade. Well, to be honest… yes, I am excited. I mean, wouldn’t you be excited if you were a first-timer too? But I am a bit nervous as well. No, it’s not because of the sunny, very warm weather being predicted for Sunday (I’ll have a hat to keep the sun at bay). It’s not because of the multitude of onlookers that await us. And it’s not because of the chance that anyone might recognize me and wonder, “Hey, is that..?” (The hat’s for that, too.) No, it’s because… well, I don’t need to remind you that we live in a pretty dark time in our country, politically speaking. And the events in Virginia last weekend and the repercussions that have since followed have made things even darker — dark enough for organizers and the city to… well, judging by what the organizers said on the event’s Facebook page earlier this week, let’s just say they’re wanting to be prepared should someone sinister disrupt Sunday’s proceedings.
The initial desire on the organizers’ part to tighten security was met with a balance of thoughts from “I appreciate that they want to keep us safe” to “more police is the last thing we need.” (Lest one forgets, there’s still lingering resentment toward Madison police as a whole over two years after one officer killed an unarmed kid on Williamson Street.) But I guess the organizers feel that it’s better to be safe than sorry, though they stress that there’s no indication of something sinister perhaps happening. Matter of fact, as I write this on Friday night, there’s a news item on TV about Saturday’s half-marathon in Madison (yeah, it’s a big weekend here in more ways than one), and their main concern is the heat and humidity getting to the runners. (Yeah, a half-marathon and a pride parade are two different beasts, but, still…)
Despite any worries, perceived or otherwise, I have a good feeling about Sunday. I eagerly look forward to dressing up, prettying myself up with makeup, donning a new wig, marching with my LGBT+ brethren… and giving Allison her biggest day in the sun (literally). Since I’ll be part of the parade, I won’t be in a position to shoot video or take photos of the parade entrants as they pass me by, as I did last year. But I hope to take as many photos and perhaps some video as I can, and I look forward to sharing my experience with you sometime after Sunday. Thank you in advance for your well wishes as I help show Madison the beauty of our LGBT+ community. 🙂