Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Cape Girardeau to host first ever Pride festival

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

New LGBTQ-advocacy group, Cape Pride, will host an inaugural pride festival from noon to 8 p.m. May 4 in Capaha Park.

Cape Pride Inc. was founded in 2018 as a not-for-profit organization to celebrate the LGBTQ community of Southeast Missouri and the surrounding regions.

The idea for a Pride festival first came to mind about a year ago when the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots approached.

In 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club, sparking a riot among bar and neighborhood patrons that led to six days of protests. The events served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world, according to

“I think that if this event goes well it will open a lot of doors,” Lauren Clark, social media manager of Cape Pride, said.

The family-friendly event offers entertainment, community vendors, local restaurants, food trucks and a kid zone.

The event will have 35 community vendors. Organizers have had to create a waitlist for vendors as the space filled at Capaha Park.

“I’m born and raised here,” Cape Pride board member Gina Thomas said. “I didn’t think [a Pride festival] would ever happen in my lifetime. I thought at some point it would, but not in my lifetime.”

Joel Rhodes, professor of history at Southeast, will begin the day with a presentation on the Stonewall Riots and progression seen today.

The event, which is alcohol-free, will feature a variety of entertainment and activities, including face painting and tattoos, games, story time, hula hoop performers, bands and performers from Independence Place.

“As an adult, gay person, it’s heartwarming to see that this is actually coming into fruition,” Thomas said. “I can actually be in my own hometown and celebrate who I am.”

Pride will celebrate two members of the local community who go above and beyond to help the LGBTQ community with a Human of the Year award.

This award will recognize the “shining stars” of the community. The choice to name the award Human of the Year came from wanting to be as inclusive as possible, Clark said.

Award winners will receive a custom sash and VIP ticket to the after party event located at Shakers.

“I think this [festival] is important for all of the younger people to see that we care,” Lauren Bishop, Cape Pride organizer, said. “Now, they have this, in this town, if they’re feeling a little claustrophobic or that they just don’t fit in.”

The festival is sponsored by Burrito-Ville, Catapult Creative House, Take-Two Photo Booth, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services and EBO MD.

Participating food vendors include Megan Gourd’s Limeade Stand, 2 Sides Grillin and BBQ, Andy’s Sweet Tooth, Kenny’s Flippin Burgers, Sugar Chic Creamery and more.

“I hope that we just have human beings that want to love,” Thomas said.

Admission is free and designed for all members of the community.

“We want everyone to know that no one is excluded, that everyone is welcome,” Thomas said.