Little Apple Pride hosted its annual festival on April 22, celebrating the LGBTQ+ community with a parade, vendors and live performances.
Jonathan Mertz, Little Apple Pride co-chair, said this year’s theme, “Friends of Dorothy,” was selected because the phrase, “Are you a friend of Dorothy?” was often said in the LGBTQ+ community to subtly ask someone if they were gay before it was widely accepted.
Mertz said the event is a chance to support one another.
“The main priority of pride was to give people an opportunity to make connections and to see that they’re not alone out there,” Mertz said. “And that’s why it’s important for the entire community to support it.”
Jeremy Dembowski, sophomore in art education, said this was his first pride parade, and he enjoyed the colorful and inviting atmosphere.
“Pride … is being surrounded by people who want to embrace you, who want to be there with you, who don’t want to see you sad about who you are and who you love,” Dembowski said.
Mertz said Little Apple Pride’s goal for Manhattan is to create a vibrant community that accepts everyone.
“There were so many people who came up to me of all ages who were telling me that this was going to be their first pride,” Mertz said. “And the sad reality is for a lot of them, it’s because they didn’t feel safe to come to prides before.”
The parade started at City Park and looped around to the other side of Aggieville and down Anderson, Mertz said.
“This was easily the largest number of people we’ve had in the parade,” Mertz said. “There were several hundred people who marched, and it was a lot of fun.”
Following the parade, there was a festival with over 40 vendors and performers, including drag queens, drag kings, live singers and magicians, Mertz said. Among the performers was drag queen Kameron Micheals, a finalist from RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Lip-Sync Assassin, Mertz said.
“She was at the festival for about an hour and did a meet and greet and took photos with lots of people and was really great interacting with the audience,” Mertz said. “She had a line the entire time, so a lot of people got to meet her.”
Brandon Haddock, coordinator for the LGBT Resource Center at Kansas State, said Little Apple Pride is an important opportunity to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.
“You know there’s just some misconceptions,” Haddock said. “But also, there’s just a fundamental lack of understanding of language of individuals within our communities that we sit next to in the classroom and that we pass on the sidewalk every day.”