Tess Hemmila––Staff Writer
Last weekend, Orange City was suddenly flooded with a crowd of rainbow-clad supporters for an LGBTQ event called OC Pride. As the streets of Orange City filled up with supporters, the surrounding community had mixed reactions of surprise and curiosity. The event was not heavily advertised and was shocking to some members of the local community.
The event itself was not put together or funded by Orange City. Orange City Mayor Deb Dehaan said, “The event was initiated, organized and promoted by four individuals from the community and surrounding area.”
OC Pride was organized primarily by Steve Mahr, Mike Goll, Dave Klennert and Dave Bauer.
The goal of OC Pride was to celebrate and acknowledge the presence of the gay community in Orange City and surrounding areas. The event itself included: a dance, a story slam, live music, and a movie.
This was the first large-scale pride event ever hosted in Orange City. After the overwhelming success of the first annual OC Pride, the organizers are optimistic that this will become an annual event. Next year’s OC Pride is already in the works, scheduled for the third weekend of Oct. 2018.
As the event was hosted in an area that is largely conservative, many people were unsure or skeptical of what the event entailed. Some feared that there would be opposition from the community. Despite the concern, the event went along smoothly without any resistance or protest, according to Mahr.
“It seemed to me that people expected it to fall outside of community values, which it did not,” said Mahr. “We just think it’s important for people to know that there are safe spaces for people to live into their full identity, that applies to all orientations.”
“We were overwhelmed with love and support from the community,” Klenner said. “It was really an event for the community and we [the LGBTQ community] are a part of the community too.”
The event was open to anyone who wanted to come, members of the LGBTQ community, supporters, and the curious Orange city residents, alike. Many students from Dordt also attended the event over the weekend. Megan O’Gorman, a freshman at Dordt, said, “I thought it was great that even in such a conservative area, they made people feel welcome.”