KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo Pride festival is returning to the city in person for the first time in two years.
This weekend, OutFront Kalamazoo invites “people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations and racial identities from Southwest Michigan and beyond to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride,” according to its website.
The 2-day festival is set to take place at Kalamazoo’s Arcadia Creed Festival Place. It will feature drag performances, music, exhibitors, food, dancing and more.
OutFront Kalamazoo works year-round toward advancing social justice, building coalitions, changing hearts and opening minds, its website says. The group hasn’t been able to host Kalamazoo Pride events in person for two years due to the pandemic. Grace Gheen, director of communications for the group, expressed her excitement for hosting the event in person again.
“Just to be able to be back with our community after being absent for so long and not being able to celebrate and be with our people … this is for the entire community. It’s not just for the LBTQ+ community but we are very excited that we have this huge safe space and a place where everyone can come and be themselves,” she said.
Many businesses in the area have been reaching out to show their support for Kalamazoo Pride, Gheen said. Victorian Bakery sold rainbow croissants over the last few weeks and donated all the proceeds to OutFront Kalamazoo. Similarly, Gheen says Kalamazoo Candle Company created a special Pride candle and is donating 100% of its proceeds.
“We have various other organizations … so we’ve had so many people reaching out to us saying they want to help, they want to help us build up the community, they want to support us,” Gheen said.
For anyone thinking about coming, Gheen highlights the inclusivity of the event.
“We want them to know this is a place they can come and be absolutely safe. We’re here to take care of you we are here we see you and we want you to be there. So, come out have fun with us and we are just looking forward to having people there,” she said.