Kenosha Pride 2019 will celebrate its annual march and festivities on Sunday marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that sparked a nationwide movement for equality for the LGBTQ+ community.
The event will begin at noon with a procession that begins at Library Park and ends at Veterans Memorial Park, where the Kenosha Pride Festival will be held from 12:30 to 9 p.m.
The family friendly event will feature a variety of entertainment and vendors for all ages. Kenosha Pride also welcomes Agadore Park, designed especially for pets. Those who attend this year can expect an expanded marketplace, beer tent, food options and official Kenosha Pride merchandise.
Last month, the city’s Park Commission unanimously approved the special events application and permits to hold this year’s celebration. This year, the city will also fly the Pride Flag, purchased by the nonprofit group, for the weekend. Mayor John Antaramian will also be issuing a Proclamation declaring July 14 at Kenosha Pride Day.
The grand marshals for this year’s march will be Brad and Nick Schlaikowski, founders of Courage MKE, with a mission to fuel a collaboration to provide the resources LGBTQ+ youth need to thrive, according to Dan Seaver, chairman of Kenosha Pride, which is in its seventh year.
“We have chosen them because we believe the work they do needs to be visible. We also found that their first referral came from Kenosha Pride’s target area of Racine, Kenosha and Lake County,” said Seaver.
In 2019 Courage MKE opened Wisconsin’s first home for displaced LGBTQ+ youth after the Schlaikowskis fostered teens of their own and learned of their struggles.
“Courage MKE believes that in order for youth to work on themselves they must be able to be themselves,” he said.
The Courage House is a licensed group home on Milwaukee’s South Side. Courage House assist residents with counseling, life skills, family reunification, and a family setting.
Marks Stonewall Riots
Seaver said this year’s 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots is a significant milestone in the LGBTQ+ community and will highlight the struggle with a history display.
In the early hours of June 28, 1969, New York City Police raided the Stonewall Inn, an establishment frequented by gays in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. Tired of the raids, patrons stood up against the police and, over the course of several days, gays fought back to show they would not be silenced or harassed.
In 1970, the first Pride Marches were held in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Since then, cities across the United States and around the world have begun to hold Pride events.
Last year, the event’s main stage became the Stonewall Stage in remembrance of the uprising.
“Since June 28, 1969, there has been significant progress in the rights for the LGBTQ+ community; however, there is still a lot of work to be done,” he said.
Since the uprising, those in the community no longer have to hide their identities in a majority of places in the United States, Seaver said. In fact, Wisconsin was the first state to add protections for the lesbian, gay and bi-sexual communities.
“There is a reason Prides are still important. The queer persons of color and the transgender communities are still not as fully accepted. There are still laws preventing transgender individuals from living their truth,” he said, including no legal protection from termination of employment and housing discrimination, among them.
In 2018, both the cities of Kenosha and Racine received scores below 50 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipality Equality Index.
The index rates municipalities on a scale from 0-100, based on how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are of LGBTQ+ people who live and work in them. The municipalities are rated based on non-discrimination laws, employer practices, municipal services, law enforcement and their leadership’s public position on equality.
“Both cities are trying to improve these scores, but it is an indication that more works needs to be done when compared to the 100 that both Milwaukee and Madison received,” he said.
Last week, Racine’s Finance and Personnel Committee unanimously approved an ordinance that would ban conversion therapy, an attempt to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity through intervention, for minors. The City Council there is expected to take up the ordinance at its July 16 meeting.
Just four cities in Wisconsin — Cudahy, Eau Claire, Madison and Milwaukee — have local laws against conversion therapy. Legislation at the state level has been proposed.