Saturday morning I arrived as they were setting up. I ate some yummy funnel cake and talked with several people about what they were doing at the event and upcoming events in the GLBT community. The first person I spoke with was Tammy Kagarice, who is the Commissioner of the Heart of America Softball League. Kansas City’s team, the Bullets, recently won the Rec Division and in August they will be traveling to San Diego for the Gay World Series. There will be over 200 teams competing, 75 of which are women’s teams. The Bullets currently practice at the city park at 38th and Park Drive in KCK, just close enough to the center of the city for anyone to be able to go check them out and show their support, or just visit them online at HASLKC.com
By early afternoon on Saturday the park was packed. Despite a very small group of protesters, there was a very positive energy in the air. It was hot and muddy, but that didn’t stop everyone from having an awesome time. Every volunteer that I spoke with was very positive about this year’s festival. There was more funding, more volunteers, and more booths than ever before.
Other political organizations were registering people to vote, and signing other petitions. Other booths were handing out information on various subjects and events that affect the gay community. The Human Rights campaign gave out literature about “Getting Equal”. Mike Henery of Kansas City who sits on the Board of Governors for the HRC told me “We care about our communities, cities, and neighborhoods we live in. We just want to be treated like everyone else”
The Kansas City Health Department was on site giving rapid HIV testing, providing free condoms and educational literature. Other organizations, such as PFLAG-KC (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Kansas City) the Hope Care Center, The Lesbian and Gay Community Center, and the LGBT Student Life Organization from KU were all there representing the interest and needs of the community.
All and all, it seemed the event was a big success. This year was larger, and attended by more people than last year, and everyone seemed hopeful that next year will be even better. One thing that stuck out to me was how many people who were there to show support to their friends and family who were not able to make it there themselves that day. Seeing so many people from different parts of the city and state, different ages, races, religions, and sexual orientations joining together for a cause, and having genuinely good time together really was enough to make even the most pessimistic person hopeful. Hopeful for gay rights, and most importantly acceptance, in the future.
Editor's Note: The Streetblast that was scheduled for Friday, June 3rd was recently rescheduled to Friday, August 5, 2005. Check the calendar for more information!
For more information about PrideFest in Kansas City, be sure to visit them at KansasCityGayPride.org.