Over 100 Kansas State students and Manhattan area residents gathered in the K-State Student Union Grand Ballroom Saturday afternoon for Little Apple Pride, an event celebrating Manhattan’s LGBT community.
The event centered around performances from local drag kings and queens, including Victoria Fox, Lil Kim Chee and Tyreese DeMornay.
Originally, Little Apple Pride was planned to be held outside and include a parade, but spring weather concerns prompted the Little Apple Pride committee to move the event indoors in the days leading up to the event.
“The weather forecast originally said it was going to storm and the high was going to be around 60, and we figured nobody was going to want to stand outside in the muddy park if it was only going to be 60 degrees,” said Rachel Hunt, freshman in biology and chair of the committee. “But being Kansas weather, that’s not exactly how it turned out, but we thought better safe than sorry and we moved it inside.”
Although the last-minute changes meant the event’s vendors were not able to sell items, many community organizations tabled at the event, including the Flint Hills Human Rights Project, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Manhattan, Cicada Pride, LGBT Resource Center, Little Apple Derby Dolls, Positive Connections and the Manhattan High School Gay Straight Alliance.
Rev. Jonalu Johnstone of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Church said she believes it is important for religious communities who are accepting of the LGBT community to make that acceptance clear.
“So many people have felt like they aren’t welcome,” Johnstone said. “They’ve been told they’re not welcome. Sometimes in worship and sometimes personally in church because they’re gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgender or queer. As a lesbian myself, I recognize how important it is for people to explicitly be told ‘You are welcome here.’”
Manhattan mayor Usha Reddi said the city has advocated for the LGBT community, with the city commission passing an ordinance last year adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Manhattan’s protected classes of citizens.
However, Reddi said there remains work to be done.
“Are we where we need to be?” Reddi said. “I’m not sure that we are. We are definitely not there, because I work with mental illness quite a bit and this is a part of that segment.”
Reddi said political appearances go a long way to supporting the LGBT community.
“We need to give them that sense of belonging and those are simple things, like kind words and getting rid of hatred,” Reddi said. “We also need to lead by example, like when the mayor or political official comes to your event. That says volumes in and of itself, and sometimes your absence does a lot too.”
Hunt said the event helps build solidarity in the community.
“I hope attendees got a sense of pride among the community,” Hunt said. “It’s been a rough year for a lot of people, and the political climate isn’t too great for the queer community. I hope people got a better sense of community and saw how much support there is in Manhattan.”