PrideFest Underway

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ROCHESTER, MN — So far this year has been one of celebration for those involved in the gay community and that is having a big impact on an annual event going on this week in Rochester.

The streets of Rochester are generally filled with a lot of people, but this week the pep in people’s step is a little different.

“After the last legislative session there was a lot of positive energy flowing in the community as I’m sure elsewhere in the state of Minnesota and we’ve seen and felt some of that energy in our community,” said Rochester City Council President Randy Staver.

For the 16th time, PrideFest is taking over Rochester. It is something those with the city are proud to say takes place in their town.

“We view it very positively. We view Rochester as a very embracing community and we look forward to celebrating events such as this,” Staver said.

Many different locations, including the Rochester Art Center, decided they want to get in on the action. They are hosting a film screening Friday night called, “Experimental Queer Cinema.”

“It’s eight different films, one of them is a DVD projected outside on the side of the building and then the other seven are 16 millimeter film, so we’re going to show them on our 16 millimeter projector and just show them inside,” said Jason Pearson, Curator of Education at the Rochester Art Center.

Pearson and his counterparts at the art center are proud to be showing something as groundbreaking at this.

“It’s cool because it’s the first of its kind in Rochester so hopefully it’s something that we’ll continue doing,” Pearson said.

Besides their films, they want the people visiting town to know that they are an art center and so far it seems to be working.

“We’ve put posters up around town, we post a lot on Facebook and also on our website and then we have a pretty large email list that we send everything out on too so we’ve got a lot of inquiries about it,” Pearson said.

For those involved, it has got a bigger meaning this year than any they can remember in the past as same sex marriage becomes law in the state.

“Largely it’s a celebration. It’s arts and entertainment and socializing and just a way of celebrating all that we’ve accomplished and how far we’ve come in the city of Rochester,” Staver said.

Staver will be helping out with PrideFest on Sunday afternoon when he will be reading a proclamation on behalf of the event.

Organizers say last years PrideFest was a “love and marriage” theme. That was inspired by their fight in the “Vote No” campaign and to pass marriage equality.

They say everything they wanted to happen did, so this year is a bit more lighthearted.

“This year it’s more of a celebration, but there’s still a lot of work to do. There’s still other states that don’t have marriage equality but we’re excited that DOMA and Prop 8 were struck down, so that really helps in the fight,” said Vangie Castro, one of the PrideFest organizers.

For a full list of events visit the Gay & Lesbian Community Services of Southeast Minnesota’s website.


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