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Sioux City hosts its first Pride Parade

Sioux City held its first Pride Parade on Thursday.
Kendall Crawford
Sioux City held its first Pride Parade on Thursday.

Sioux City hosted its very first Pride Parade celebration on Thursday.

The parade, organized by the Siouxland Pride Alliance, marched through the downtown area with local businesses, public officials and community leaders all showing their support for the LGBTQ community.

President of Siouxland Pride Alliance Don Dew said the inaugural event shows how much the western Iowa community has progressed in the last decade.

“Ten years ago, there would have been backlash trying to do this,” Dew said. “There was not the acceptance and tolerance, and you kind of need both.”

Dew said the organization decided to add the parade to its Pride festivities after watching towns of the same size or smaller embrace the event. Originally, the event was planned for 2020 to commemorate 50 years since the first parade in New York City in 1970 – a year after the Stonewall riots. But, it had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

It’s just one of many events the community is hosting to celebrate Pride – including the organization’s annual festival and Pride Prom. All of the events are free and family-friendly.

Siouxland Pride Alliance vice president Karen Mackey said the parade shows the LGBTQ community how many allies it has throughout Sioux City.

“It's a level of acceptance that the gay community, the LGBTQ community, can actually have a parade and be accepted,” Mackey said. “This is a very conservative part of Iowa. And Sioux City's a fairly conservative community. But it's great, we're going to have it.”

Onlookers saw a wide variety of local businesses and community leaders at the event – including city councilman Matthew O’Kane, who led the parade as its first grand marshal. The parade began right outside a slice of LGBTQ history: The site of Sioux city's first lesbian bar.

Mackey hoped attendees left the parade filled with candy and exhilarated by celebrating who they are. She hoped – for her and many others – the parade gave LGBTQ people the space to celebrate their existence.

“The fact that I exist is resistance,” she said. “And that I can be myself and be truly who I am, in this community that I grew up in is really a blessing.”

Kendall was Iowa Public Radio’s western Iowa reporter based in Sioux City, IA until Jan. 20, 2023.