Lincoln County Pride Festival Celebrated Second Annual Event Successfully

By Moira Blazi, The Montanian

Two short years ago, Beckie Guerra and friends decided to have a small Gay Pride picnic in Fireman’s park. They put out the word on the usual channels, Facebook, and word of mouth. Over 20 folks came with potluck dishes, talked and relaxed with each other on the picnic tables and the grass. It was truly a watershed moment, because , just one year later, picnic attendees Matt and David Hill, along with a diverse group of about 20 others, hosted Libby’s first annual Pride Festival at Fred Brown Pavilion, in Riverfront Park. No one really expected the festival to be the fabulous success that it was, and so this year, on July 8th, Libby LGBTQIA+ is hosting Libby’s second annual Lincoln County Pride festival, in Libby, at Riverfront Park on July 8th from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with a free hot dog dinner and family movie-in-the-park continuing after dark.

Returning to grace the stage as mistress of ceremonies, Diva legend Nova Kaine, high priestess of drag down in Spokane will be on hand to entertain and introduce the many other drag performers, many from Montana, and featuring Diana Bourgeois , as well as folks from The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Montana Human Rights Network who will be giving presentations on bullying, and Mental health challenges for LGBTQ+youth.

After a blessing by local Lutheran pastor Abagail Orellano, the festival will kicked off with a fun and fabulous doggie fashion show, sponsored and hosted by local pet spa, 4 Paws Pet Retreat. Over a dozen dogs participated in the fashion show, each getting their bio announced and photos taken. Acrobats from Levitation Nation performed during the day’s festivities, as well as poetry readings of LGBTQ+ poets, including Whitman, Dickenson, Mary Oliver, James Baldwin and Andrea Gibson, and others. Local performers will be offering some drama, some music, some heartfelt words of wisdom and inspiration, and there was a very special guest speaker Zooey Zephyr, Montana State Representative.

This Pride Festival, as with all the others happening across the county this month, is about celebrating the historic courage of the folks at the Stonewall Inn, back in 1969, who fought back against decades of harassment and oppression. Rainbow flags and other LGBTQ+ flags, represent the all-encompassing diversity of the community .

Over 25 craft and educational vendors were present, and there will was a kids area, offering arts and crafts, story time with pastor Abagail, and other fun activities. Families and community members gathered and enjoyed the high energy dance, song and spoken word, and  learn something about the efforts being made to combat bullying and harassment. Hamburgers, hotdogs, veggie burgers and other delicious offerings were available on sale and by donation. Next year’s planning has already began.

Photo Courtesy from Sarah Boe (three bottom photos). Other photos courtesy from Anthony South.