Rainbow Over Wisconsin’s first NEW Pride Alive event at the Brown County Fairgrounds in 2019. We’re featuring a series of articles from local authors celebrating our diversity in the Fox Valley.
By Josh Kilgas, president, Rainbow Over Wisconsin
Early in our relationship, my now-husband took me to my first pride events in Chicago and Milwaukee. It had a profound impact on my life to see so many LGBTQ+ people together, proud.
Like many LGBTQ+ people, I had a difficult time accepting myself growing up. I hid such an essential part of my identity from my friends and family. Although I didn’t know how they would take it if I told them, I heard the hurtful things people said about gay people, even from those I cared deeply about. I thought I might never tell anyone my secret.
After my first pride events, I had hope, but I didn’t think I could feel the same pride back home when I wasn’t in such big cities. But then my husband took me to the first NEW Pride Alive in Green Bay. I remember sitting underneath a tree in the park thinking that the people I was looking at were beautiful, that I was happy to be a part of this community, and that I was…proud. It was a turning point in how I thought about myself and my community.
Today I lead Rainbow Over Wisconsin (ROW), the organization that puts on NEW Pride Alive. We work to have public events like NEW Pride Alive and other social and educational events.
Unfortunately, NEW Pride Alive was canceled last year as well as this year due to COVID-19. It saddens our hearts not to bring this same experience to a community we know is vulnerable, but we continue to work to make sure we can come back strong in the future.
We do so to give people a safe place to celebrate themselves, even if it is for a one-day event. We do so because we know we may have the same impact on people who don’t yet know their pride.