Second annual Pride March brings celebration to Old Town

Serena Bettis

Although Pride Month officially ended in June, Pride events in the local LGBTQ+ community occur annually in July. 

Hosted by NoCo SafeSpace and SPLASH Youth of Northern Colorado, over 50 people gathered in Old Town Square Friday evening to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride. 

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“When we started NoCo Pride in Fort Collins six years ago, we chose not to do it during June because … many people do as much as they can with Denver Pride as well,” said Kimberly Chambers, co-organizer of the march and founder of NoCo SafeSpace. “So it just makes more sense to spread it out over the summer.”

Participants of the Northern Colorado Pride March lead chants in Old Town Square July 17, 2020. (Serena Bettis | The Collegian)

NoCo Pride weekend has been a mid-July constant for six years, while the Pride March started in 2019. Chambers said that the Pride March is meant to kick off Pride weekend, but with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, only the march will happen this year. 

“Pride is really just a time for people to express their true selves and feel unjudged and accepted,” said Sav M., a volunteer at the event. “I think it’s a great time for community outreach, as well as youth outreach, because there are a lot of LGBTQIA+ youth who kind of go through unnoticed for any sort of specific reason, so I think it’s really important to have this outreach, this pride, the ability for people to come together.” 

Marchers went south, down College Avenue from Old Town Square, stopping at the intersection of College Avenue and Mulberry Street for roughly 15 minutes to lead chants from either side of College Avenue. Chants consisted of “Black Lives Matter,” “Hey hey, ho ho, transphobia has got to go” and “2, 4, 6, 8, how do you know your kids are straight?”

The biggest thing I hope is that people that are at home or are somewhere where they don’t feel safe, or if they’re in a situation where they feel kind of alone in their identity, I want them to feel and to see that they’re not alone.” -Kimberly Chambers, NoCo SafeSpace founder

The march was the first Pride event Front Range Community College graduate Roxana Vidal has attended. She wanted to show her support because she is sick of everything that is going on in the world. Vidal, who is Peruvian, said she sees the same hate in her country as well. 

A community member holds up a sign that reads “Black Trans women made my rights possible at the second annual Northern Colorado Pride March July 17, 2020. (Serena Bettis | The Collegian)

“We all deserve the same rights and I’m here to show support,” Vidal said. “If you ever hear something, or you’re in the middle of a situation, don’t stay quiet — just speak up. Say what you think and speak up.” 

Chambers said that, while celebrating Pride this year, she is really focusing on solidarity between local communities of color and LGBTQ+ communities. 

“Although the oppression isn’t the same, we experience it in similar ways,” Chambers said. “This year we’ll be slightly less boisterous than we were last year because we have a lot of work to do, and we have a lot of energy to give our communities of color that crossover in intersection with the queer community.”

Karen Wong-Brown, vice president of the Northern Colorado chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, said she tries to represent people of color at events like the Pride March. 

“I used to be an ally for the community, and I recently came out,” Wong-Brown said. “I think it’s been challenging for me,

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Participants of the Northern Colorado Pride March lead chants as they move down College Avenue July 17, 2020. (Serena Bettis | The Collegian)

especially because there’s not that (much Asian/Pacific Islander) support here. But being an ally, I thought I could help support other communities.”

M. also works with the FoCo People’s Initiative for Equity. They said the Black Lives Matter protests and other community outreach events are a step in the right direction. However, they believe Fort Collins has a long way to go before the community can claim that it is as intersectional as it has claimed in the past. 

“The biggest thing I hope is that people that are at home or are somewhere where they don’t feel safe, or if they’re in a situation where they feel kind of alone in their identity, I want them to feel and to see that they’re not alone,” Chambers said. 

Serena Bettis can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @serenaroseb.