Itasca Pride and counter gathering events in Grand Rapids planned for June

The newly formed Itasca Pride will be hosting its first event on Sunday, June 23. The event, which will be held at the Central School in Grand Rapids, has received both support and pushback from members of the community since it was announced. Supporters and detractors have both made their opinions heard at Grand Rapids City Council meeting and on social media.

Speaking with WDIO, Ehryn Summers, Arts and Entertainment Coordinator and Director for Itasca Pride, said he’s excited to be part of the new rural community pride events happening.

“This is just the beginning of what we’re trying to do, connect the LGBTQ community to our small area,” said Summers. “Seeing the support from this community that really drown out the hate, if you will.”

Despite the support, Summers adds that there has been pushback.

Protect the Children from Pride/Drag show & Walk with Prayer is an event created “to shield children from Itasca Pride,” as per the group’s Facebook page. The event will be held at the same time and is planned as a walk around Central School.

Organizers for the event provided WDIO with this statement.

“Protect the Children’ is the least we can do. A lot of children will have no choice but to be exposed to the pride event happening, as they travel through the downtown area that day. These children and parents may not have any control over what route they take to get to their destination. This unnecessary exposure will cause confusion for the children and no doubt, challenges for the parents. We need to step up and protect those children, being the shield for that innocence. It also gives us a chance to pray for everyone that is directly and/or indirectly involved. This is not a ‘protest,’ but and ever-loving ‘I got your child’s back’ movement. We need to teach the children to follow God, even when the world teaches them not to.”

The Itasca Pride event will include vendors, food trucks, drag performances, music bingo and live music performed by Ditty Wish and The Beckies. Applications are still open for vendors, food trucks and volunteers. The event will run 9:00 a.m. to noon.

Summers will also be talking about Judy Garland at the event and her connections to both the Grand Rapids area and the LGBTQ community.

For more information on how to get involved in either event, you can go to their respective Facebook groups; Itasca Pride and Protect the Children from Pride/Drag show & Walk with Prayer.