canada africa partner reservation Pride parade, festival coming to SoMa

Pride parade, festival coming to SoMa

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Little Rock’s SoMa neighborhood is kicking off June with a day of festivities celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. This is the first time the nonprofit Central Arkansas Pride has hosted a parade in June, which is Pride Month. For years, the nonprofit has held pride celebrations during LGBTQ History Month in October.

Joe Johnson is communications director for Central Arkansas Pride. In his eyes, the addition of a parade in June is in line with their mission to celebrate pride “365 days a year.”

“This is truly a groundbreaking event for Central Arkansas, especially in Little Rock.” Johnson said. “We can actually create an LGBTQIA celebration during Pride Month.”

According to Johnson, the local queer community has been asking for a Pride celebration in Little Rock for years.

“It really will be a celebration and an event where people can come together and be visible, heard and seen,” Johnson said. “That is something that is very important to our community.”

The celebration is in partnership with SoMa 501, the nonprofit organization responsible for events and development in Little Rock’s South Main Street neighborhood.

SoMa 501 Executive Director Elizabeth Michael says she is excited to see the community come together and showcase their creativity.

“We always have different prizes for the participants in the parade.” she said. “I really hope that people sign up for the parades, sign up as a vendor, sign up as a sponsor, but they want to participate and really bring their A-game.”

Dolores Wilk, executive director of Central Arkansas Pride, said it’s important to host local events because not everyone can travel to larger festivals.

“Pride allows us to be in a safe environment and have a safe space where we can celebrate who we are as a community.”

Wilk said LGBTQ+ people “need the visibility” that Pride gives them, especially in Arkansas.

Many Arkansas lawmakers have openly supported policies that activists say target LGBTQ+ communities.

Recently, the Arkansas Legislative Council passed a rule reversing the state’s policy on gender-neutral driver’s licenses and IDs. For the past 14 years, Arkansans have been able to put “X” instead of “M” or “F” on their legal ID. The Department of Finance and Administration rule removes “X” as an option.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arkansas filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the rule on behalf of five plaintiffs who do not identify as exclusively male or female. John Williams, legal director of ACLU Arkansas, said the rule change creates a “real and immediate danger to the well-being of our claimants and other transgender, nonbinary and intersex people, for whom accurate identification is not just a matter of dignity, but also personal safety. ”

In the meantime, supporters like Dolores Wilk are determined to strengthen their ties with the community.

“We are everywhere, and we will not be erased. And that is what the legislation is trying to do to us, or push us into the back corner.” they said.

The ‘SoMa Pride’ lasts a whole day and runs on June 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. SoMa’s main street is closed that day. Information about vendors, events and how to get involved can be found online at somalittlerock.com/somapride.