Allegan hosts its first Pride event
You’d expect a Pride celebration in June during Pride month, but for one small Southwest Michigan city, it’s happening on Saturday.
This isn’t the first time “Allegan, Out Loud!” organizer, Eddie Quinones–Walker, has been first to do something. He and his business partner - his life partner - were the first same sex couple legally married in Allegan in 2015.
Quinones–Walker admitted that the idea for Saturday’s all-inclusive, family-friendly Pride celebration met with some resistance, particularly online.
“We have received our fair share of pushback and opposition,” said Quinones-Walker, “but what we've also learned in doing this, is that the pushback in the opposition is very small compared to the amount of support we have.”
The co-owner of a recycling business, Quinones–Walker, said he sees it as chance for Allegan to show off.
“It's a really cool town. It's picturesque, we've got a lot of fun businesses, but just because of our sleepy past, it's gone largely unnoticed. So, I'm really excited to get out there and show the rest of West Michigan and the country, you know, what we have to offer and how neat it is to be a part of Allegan.”
Quinones–Walker didn’t rule out that “Allegan, Out Loud!” might someday be held in June, but for now, he said the August date has its benefits.
“One thing I like about doing it in August is that we're not competing with the big cities,” he said, since those events are more established and popular with the LGBTQIA community.
“You can go out to the lakeshore, Saugatuck, Douglas, even Holland, and you can see LGBTQIA representation all over. You know, pride flags, queer things to do, all that sort of thing,” said Quinones–Walker.
“But then when you come to Allegan, it's largely not visible. We just aren't that visible. Which doesn't mean that we aren't here. It just means that those of us who belong to the LGBTQIA community haven't really had a platform to standup and to speak up on. And not only that, we just haven't felt all that safe. That is, until recently.
“It was just recently that we said, ‘you know what? Allegan can do this.’ And we can do this. And what we've also learned in doing this is it just takes one person to begin the chain of events, just to standup and say, ‘you know, I am proud to be who I am.’ And then all of a sudden, you just find this multitude of people fall right in line behind you. And they say ‘me too, I'm proud of me too.’ And it's just been this really beautiful thing to see come together.”
The “Allegan, Out Loud!” Pride event will kick off at 3 p.m. at the Allegan District Library with Drag Queen Storytime and kids stories of acceptance. Events on the riverfront run until 9 p.m., with the possibility of a dance party going on until 10 p.m., Quinones–Walker said.