Sioux Falls Pride Week Advocates For Equality, Celebrates Community

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- Sioux Falls Pride is celebrating the LGBT community and advocating for equality with Pride Week.

Volunteers with The Center for Equality spend months organizing Sioux Falls Pride Week. In the past four years, Sioux Falls Pride Week has grown from 600 to over 8,000 attendees. Co-chair of Sioux Falls Pride, Thomas Christiansen says the organization expects around 10,000 people to attend this year’s events.

“There’s a lot more acceptance, I think. People are now understanding, that go to it, that maybe had a perception or misconception of what Pride is, and they realize that it’s a really joyous celebration,” says Christiansen.

Pride will kick off on Sunday, June 11 with an equality march. The march will start at Carnegie Hall at 1 p.m., wrap around the court house and end at Falls Park west. During the week there will be events for people of all ages, like the Kids Paint Party at Prairie West Library on Tuesday, June 13 at 6 p.m. Pride Week will wrap up on Saturday, June 17 with Pride in the Park from noon to 6 p.m. For a full schedule of Pride Week events, click here.

Chair of Sioux Falls Pride, Ashley Gaddis says she got involved with the cause when she moved to Sioux Falls from Saint Paul. She says she was inspired by the people she met in Sioux Falls that had a like-minded, progressive way of thinking.

“Sioux Falls Pride is different than any other Pride across the country. As much as it’s growing and we’d love to see our Pride festival be gigantic, like Twin Cities Pride, this is a lot, you really get a sense of community at our Pride, a closer community,” says Gaddis.

Gaddis insists Pride Week isn’t just for people who identify as LGBT; it’s for friends, family, allies and coworkers. She says it’s for everyone to attend and say, “We accept everybody, especially in this community.”

In response to people who feel uncomfortable by Pride Week, Christiansen has some simple advice.

“I would suggest that they come out. I think that they’ll be pleasantly surprised,” says Christiansen.

According to The Center for Equality, there are thousands of LGBT people living in Sioux Falls. They say many of them feel alienated and afraid to come out because of a lack of public support and understanding. The Center for Equality says they aim to create safety and provide resources for LGBT South Dakotans.

For more on The Center for Equality and their resources, click here.

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