At Twin Cities Pride Festival, rainbows and requests for reform

Pride weekend included an impromptu protest against police.

A pride float progresses down the parade route.

Image by Easton Green

A pride float progresses down the parade route.

by Maraya King

This weekend, hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans gathered at the Twin Cities Pride Festival to celebrate love and equality. And call for social justice.

Starting on Saturday, Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis resembled something out of Dr. Seuss’ imagination. Endless rainbows, blue skies and furries — oh my! 

Whether you came with your partner(s), your family, a prideful pup or just to see the sights for yourself, there was no shortage of love and camaraderie. 

As far as entertainment went, offerings were almost identical to those of recent years. Attendees were treated to informative booths as far as the eye could see, Plinko games around every corner and, of course, drag queens dressed to the nines and highlighted to the gods. 

One of the most popular kiosks was “She Rock She Rock,” a nonprofit dedicated to empowering girls, trans women and women of color. 

With all of the buttons, stickers and bracelets flying around, it was impossible to remain rainbow-less by the time you found your car.

However, even Pride is not without its flaws. A frequent complaint came from the LGBTQ community regarding the “materialization of Pride” by those identifying as cisgender heterosexual. 

Almost every booth sold a bro-tank that read “ally,” but those willing to brand themselves as such were few and far between.

Conversations abound, the point was not to discredit allies of the community, but rather to lift up those who have overcome the struggles that come with being queer. 

Proudly waving the rainbow flag is a profound moment for those who fought for it — it’s not just another Instagram aesthetic.

Early on Saturday evening, festivities were slowed to a crawl when Thurman Blevins, 31, was shot and killed by police in north Minneapolis after 911 calls were placed, claiming he was shooting a gun into the air. 

While there is debate surrounding the incidents of that night, the party raged on at local bars while protestors planned for the next day.

Once the sun had officially set, the city buzzed from Gay 90’s all the way to Jetset bar, where the shots looked vaguely similar to the Pride flag.

The next morning, an hour-long protest preceded the parade, which called for change within the Twin Cities and national police forces.

The protesters marched into the parade path and demanded their voices be heard — literally — before the parade could continue on.

But this interruption did very little to dampen the mood of the ongoing festivities. If anything, it re-energized the crowd. 

This year’s Pride was both a celebration and a call to action — some might even call it a unicorn.