Celebrating equality during Mason City Pride

Now in its third year, MC Pride celebrates the LGBTQ community

Posted: Aug 18, 2019 1:02 AM

MASON CITY, Iowa - Pride Month, which celebrates the history, recognition and accomplishments made by and of the LGBTQ community, is technically in June.

But due to other summer events, Mason City's Pride festival is held in August. And this year's fest was no exception, complete with vendors, a youth talent pageant, drag show, food and booths from UnityPoint Health Care, One Iowa and even Presidential candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, who is openly gay.

Mark Busch is with the Des Moines-based Iowa Safe Schools, an organization dedicated to providing safe and supportive learning environments for LGBTQ and allied youth.

"LGBTQ youth contemplate suicide anywhere 3-5 times as much as their heterosexual counterparts, and that's still happening today. Our LGBTQ youth have higher rates of homelessness, drug use, mental health concerns and death by suicide."

With the next school year on the horizon, they want to ensure that those in rural communities get the same support as those in towns and cities, and to also network LGBTQ and heterosexual youth through Gay-Straight Alliances (or GSA's), which can have positive outcomes for all.

"Studies have shown that when a high school has a GSA on their campus, suicide rates decrease in all student populations, not just queer populations."

Davie Welsher is on the MC Pride committee, and one of those in charge of organizing the one-day festival. Even in a smaller town like Mason City, he says some may be surprised there is a strong LGBTQ community here.

"We've actually got a community, we have a presence here. I'm also a member of One Iowa North, where we have monthly meetings. We've worked really hard for the last 15 years to support, educate and advocate for equal rights, and this proves that the community supports this event."

While he feels that there is more work to be done, he feels that more people are becoming more accepting.

"To have an event like this to see so many people come out here really shows that we're willing to change and willing to start accepting everybody as equals and enjoy the celebration."

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