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Standing tall at Pride

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Standing tall at Pride

Audrey Kuhne and Keriana Kyle, both 13, patiently waited for the gates to open outside the festival. This was their first time attending a Pride event.

“I’ve always wanted to go,” Kuhne said. “I’m originally from Moberly, and it’s a really small town so there was never Pride. We just want to support the community.”

Both girls were excited to see what the festival was like and to be around people who shared their sexual orientation.

“With me, I always grew up around different types of people, like gay people or different religions, so I’ve always been open about it,” Kyle said.

Ben Lopez and Lux Kween dress up for the MidMO PrideFest

Ben Lopez, left, and Lux Kween dress up for MidMO PrideFest on Saturday at Rose Music Hall. The event is free to the community and includes entertainment, food, vendors and informational booths.

The MidMO PrideFest has been an annual event for 15 years. The festival “allows us to not only celebrate our identities and the things that make us unique, but it also gives the community an opportunity to show their support to their LGBTQ neighbors, friends, employees and customers,” according to its website.

On Saturday, the festival unfolded at Rose Music Hall with an abundance of performers, food trucks and vendors. Hundreds of people flowed onto the closed-off streets when the festival began at 1 p.m.

Vendors handed out pamphlets, T-shirts and stickers to passersby.

Joshua Jackson stands with his friends

Joshua Jackson, who identifies as gay, stands with his friends during MidMO PrideFest on Saturday at Rose Music Hall. “Since coming out, I’ve been living my best life,” he said. “I love being myself, being able to love myself and love everyone.”

Karis Agnew, 24, is the field director for the statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization, PROMO, which sponsored the event.

“Our goal is to engage with our local communities and let them know the advocacy work that is happening in our state and asking them to become involved,” Agnew said.

Agnew loved how MidMO PrideFest brought in people from outside Columbia and fostered community.

“They can see people like them, they are validated, they are seen, and they are safe, and I think that’s what every Pride means to all of us,” Agnew said. 

Drag performer Musica Malone speaks with festival attendees

Drag performer Musica Malone speaks with festival attendees during MidMO PrideFest on Saturday at Rose Music Hall. Malone has been performing for more than 20 years.

Bands like The Unincorporated, a rock band from Iowa, performed onstage while people ate, drank, danced and laughed.

Tammy Clovens, 50, is a first-time volunteer for MidMO PrideFest.

“The world needs to know that we are out here, and I think it’s a great cause,” Clovens said. “It’s just a really great place for people to mingle and get together and be like family.”

Supervising editor is Claire Colby.

Jason and Ben Stephen display their hand fan

Jason and Ben Stephen, freshman twins from Hickman High School who identify as gay, display their hand fans during MidMO PrideFest on Saturday at Rose Music Hall. "It's our diverse community," Ben Stephen said.

Rebekah Robertson puts temporary tattoos on attendees at the Mid-Missouri PrideFest

Rebekah Robertson puts temporary tattoos on attendees at MidMO PrideFest on Saturday at Rose Music Hall. Robertson is volunteering for First Baptist Church.

Callum Duggan, Neve Duggan and Lawrence Duggan listen to a musical performance

From right, Callum Duggan, 3, Neve Duggan, 6, and their father, Lawrence Duggan, listen to a MidMO PrideFest musical performance Saturday at Rose Music Hall. Before the drag show in the evening, young community members performed. 

  • General assignment reporter, fall 2019 Studying magazine journalism Reach me at, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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