Spencer Short — Staff Writer
On Saturday, October 19th, the Prairie Winds Event Center in Orange City was packed with rainbows, flags, pins, flowers and hair of all colors. Orange City Pride, or OC Pride, is currently in its third year, hosting a weekend long festival of storytelling, brunch and even a drag show to cap off the whole event. This year’s name, You Can’t Burn Pride, comes as a direct response to a situation last year in which local religious leader Paul Dorr set fire to pro-LGBT books owned publicly by the Orange City Library.
Left-over tension abounded on Saturday evening as the drag show was about to take place. Protesters and a few police officers gathered at the front of the building. Notable people in the protester crowd were Kurt Korver, who is currently running as mayor for Orange City, James Vondrak, who is running for a city council position also in Orange City, and Jacob Hall, one of the leaders of the Sioux County Conservatives. The group, which consisted of around two dozen people, were praying, singing and speaking their opinion on why they believed events like OC Pride shouldn’t be hosted in the future.
“Society is built on strong Christian families and principles… we are out here praying, in a spiritual battle versus what is right and what’s wrong,” said Korver. “If you look at other countries, once this behavior gets started, it doesn’t stop. People in other states are getting fired from business is they don’t support [homosexuality].”
Korver also cited some city ordinances: Article 4- Public Morals, Sub-section 4.01 and 4.03. 4.01 states the articles purpose, that “The purpose of this article is to preserve the public order by defining and prohibiting offenses against public morals and providing for their abatement.” Sub-Section 4.03 is titled Blasphemous or Obscene Language, stating “it shall be unlawful for a person to use blasphemous or obscene language publicly, to the disturbance of the public peace and quiet.”
Korver, Hall, and Devrak believe that Prairie Winds Event Center, a publicly owned space in which Korver himself is one of the largest donators, violates these rules. The center itself in its own policies also states that “lewd movements or movements that imitate a sexual act” are prohibited, a rule that some believe the drag show violated.
But the protesters aren’t the only ones who feel that regulations and rules aren’t being followed. Before the drag show, five contractual points were made to the attendees. The first four were “no physical contact with the performers,” “no gyrating of the hips or genitalia,” “no rustling of faces in breasts,” “no strip teases or anything resembling a strip tease, including placing money into the clothing of the performers,” and finally, “no minors are allowed to be present on the premises during the performance.” Organizers felt the last point was unfair, and even unconstitutional.
Eventually, an Orange City Council member, Steve Roesner, along with Mark Gaul, Orange City’s Economic Development director, along with one other person who was sent as a representative of the city, stated that minors would be allowed to stay in the room and view the performance, but the other rules still stood. After back and forth between the organizers and the officials and sending around two dozen minors in attendance up to the balcony to speak directly with the men from the city, it was felt that these talks and videos were strong enough assurances to have the event to proceed with the minors in the room.
The rest of the show went off without any issues. Money for the queens was required to be placed into buckets on the stage, instead of thrown at the dancers, excluding the last act, where attendees were asked to toss their money onto the floor. The queens performed flips, cartwheels, and faux-belted their hearts out.
In an interlude between dances, the main talent of the show, Martina Shakers, stated that she had been having some other issues behind the scenes. According to Shakers, who has been a part of or directly in charge of over two dozen pride events all over the United States, said that she received her first death threat in 18 years. The threat supposedly stated that if Shakers came to Orange City, she wouldn’t be leaving it. Shakers immediately stated the color, make, model and location of her car, challenging anyone to come and harass her.
Though not everyone in Orange City’s community agrees with or supports OC Pride, the event was, overall, a success. The drag show ended with cheers from attendees as the queens lip-synced through their final Lady-Gaga centric number.
A tweet from the official OC Pride Twitter account, @prideorangecity, summed up their feelings about the weekend: “Pride means love. Acceptance. Togetherness. Pride means that we are here for you. We will fight for you. We are thankful for you.”