SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Greater Ozarks Pridefest is ten days away, and the Glo Center is busy getting ready for this year’s event on Park Central Square.
Organizers said sponsors have received backlash. That’s because some state lawmakers have made it known they don’t support certain parts of the event, like drag performances.
“I think this is a great opportunity to show people outside the [LGBTQ+] community what drag is, because I think a lot of people don’t know,” GLO/Pride Planning Committee Member Courtney Pinkham said. “It’s not harmful, it’s not negative, and that it can be done in a great and loving and family way.”
There are several planned drag performances at this year’s event, one of which will be from Katriana Dupree.
“I’ve been doing female impersonation for 14 years, mainly based out of Springfield,” Dupree said. “With younger people coming into the community, I think it’s important to be inclusive and teach [them] that it’s okay that people are themselves.”
Dupree said they make sure they know their audience before finalizing their performance, especially at a kid-friendly event.
“I am a lot more conscious of the verbiage in the music that I used,” Dupree said. “I have selected a country performance, which is kind of a little bit outside of my realm.”
Greater Ozarks Pridefest organizers are also looking over performances before the day of the event.
“We are enforcing city ordinance dress code,” Pinkham said. “We are listening to all the music to make sure that it is family friendly. So all the performers know this [and it] has not been an issue.”
Although drag performances have a big topic of conversation, there are things for families to enjoy at Pridefest.
“We’re going to have clowns, balloon makers, yard games, [and] face painting,” “It’s the same thing you would see at any other event. If you’re a member of the LGBTQ family, whether you identify as gay or lesbian or bisexual, you have a family. Many of these individuals have children, and we want this to be something that they can take pride in and have their family included.”
Pinkham said it’s important to keep the tradition alive while making sure people feel free to express themselves.
“It’s a matter of principle to stand up and do what is right and protect every member of our community,” Pinkham said. “We just want everyone to have the same rights.”
Organizers held Pridefest in October previously. But with community feedback, they decided to move it back to June 2023.