Celebrating Kalamazoo Pride: Drag performers, dancing, smiles

Lori Gottschling is an intern at Discover Kalamazoo who enjoys all things related to coffee and photography. Keep an eye out for Lori at upcoming events in Kalamazoo! :)

Lori Gottschling is an intern at Discover Kalamazoo who enjoys all things related to coffee and photography. Keep an eye out for Lori at upcoming events in Kalamazoo! 🙂

Kalamazoo, Mich. — The second I step into line (which, by the way, stretches all the way out of the park!), I am immediately overcome with a sense of welcoming by the people around me.

There is chatting, laughter and genuine happiness filling the air! I can literally hear the buzz of excitement as strangers introduce themselves to one another and make new friends — all before they even step foot onto the festival grounds. This is going to be a good day. 🙂

I’m in line to attend Kalamazoo Pride (held June 13-14, 2014) in downtown Kalamazoo at Arcadia Creek Festival Place to get photos for my internship at Discover Kalamazoo.

Haven’t heard of Kalamazoo Pride? This annual festival started in 2007 to celebrate the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity, and it’s hosted by the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center. Read on to get a taste of what Kalamazoo Pride has to offer!

Kalamazoo pride festival

The bridge leading into Kalamazoo Pride 2014 was lined with lots of people Friday evening before the festival gates opened!

kalamazoo pride festival

The bridge was also lined with beautiful rainbow fabric! 🙂

kalamazoo pride fest

Before the local drag competition started, dancers wowed the crowd with their moves!

Once I make it through the line, the real fun begins!

The night starts with a dance competition that brings the crowd to its feet! It’s so amazing to see Kalamazoo locals have no fear about jumping up on stage and showing off their funky dance moves! (I’m not sure I could do that!)

After the dance competition, it’s time for the event I’ve been excited about for weeks: the local drag competition. I’ve never been to a drag show before, but I’ve always wanted to go. So, here’s my chance!

The competition kicks off with an impeccable lip-sync performance by last year’s Ms. Kalamazoo Pride, the fabulous and beautiful, Una Legend!

kalamazoo pride fest

Ms. Kalamazoo Pride 2013 Una Legend gives the crowd a wave during the farewell performance at the 2014 Kalamazoo Pride drag competition.

After Legend’s farewell performance, the contestants give their all by showing their best lip-syncing skills and dance moves — all in hopes of becoming Miss or Mister Kalamazoo Pride 2014!

The stage is filled with loads of energy, charisma, creativity and some of the most spectacular costumes I have ever seen — not to mention, some pretty awesome lip-synced performances, too. 😉

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After the local drag competition — which will not be my last — the Chicago cover band Deja Vu rocks out on stage while I join the crowd to dance at the band’s feet!

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Later, I wander around looking for people to chat about what pride means to them. Here’s what they had to say:

kalamazoo pride festival

“Pride is everybody being allowed to be as happy as they want to be in the open. It’s so important for everyone to feel safe expressing themselves. Everyone deserves a safe place,” said Chelsea Errante and August Smith.

kalamazoo pride

“Pride means being myself no matter the cost,” said Sabrina Alexinia Berk.

 

 

 

 

kalamazoo pride

“Love is love. It has nothing to do with gender,” said Sara Murphy and Mindi Snyder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, my experience at Kalamazoo Pride 2014 was something that I will always cherish. My biggest takeaways are we should always be proud of who we are and continue to love the people we are becoming!

kalamazoo prideSee more Kalamazoo Pride photos by visiting Discover Kalamazoo‘s Facebook or Flickr albums!

Click here to find more cool things to do in Kalamazoo!

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