KC Pride Fest 2023 comes with a renewed sense of purpose

Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 10:24 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Kansas City Pride Fest kicked off Friday at Theis Park, with what may be the largest parade yet on Saturday.

It comes just weeks after lawmakers on both sides of the state line enacted restrictions on transgender people.

Fountain Haus in Westport is all decked out, ready for the rooftop to be a prime spot for the parade. It starts right outside the establishment at 39th and Broadway. The owner of the LGBTQ bar said 152 organizations have signed up to participate in the parade.

“It’s about unity,” said patron Billy Griffin. “It’s about all coming together.”

Griffin was in the parade last year but will be watching this year.

Todd Becker has been attending Pride festivities for decades. For him, it’s about sending a message to those younger than him.

“Just to know that they’re supported, that we’re visible, and that they’re not alone,” Becker said. “That’s why I come out.”

It will be Carlos Garcia’s first Pride parade. He moved to Kansas City from Amarillo, Texas.

“There’s a meaning behind it, the freedom to be who you are,” he said. “And, I feel happy to be part of Kansas City. People are open-minded and I can be free.”

Some say this year feels different in a good way.

“I feel like it’s much more vocal and out there this year,” said Patrick Dezi. “I feel a bit more accepted, and I feel embraced more than in previous years.”

That might be because of the legislation focused on the trans community. In response, those who support them are supporting them more vocally. When Missouri’s attorney general created an emergency rule severely restricting access to gender-affirming care, Kansas City government countered with an official proclamation.

“Luckily, we’re in Kansas City, which is great,” said Griffin. “We’re a sanctuary city. Hell yeah.”

“I do feel like Kansas City is a little bubble of love,” said Landon Patterson. “There is still a little hate in it though.”

Patterson goes by Lana Luxx on stage. On Friday, she was hosting performances on stage at Theis Park. In 2015, she was Oak Park High School’s first trans Homecoming Queen. For her, this year feels like a step back and even a little scary. But, not at Pride Fest when she’s among so many allies and a strong security presence. It’s still a celebration for her, just a more defiant one.

“To me, Pride means the same thing it’s always meant, because we’re constantly fighting,” Patterson said. “But, this time for me it’s really about coming together and standing up to bigotry and showing we’re not scared. We will always be our true selves. You can’t stop us. There’s so much love here and love always wins.”

If you are driving, be prepared to walk. It was crowded Friday night and tough to find parking nearby.

Details about times, places, prices and the parade route can be found here and here.