Home Arts & Entertainment A Recap of Grand Rapids Pride 2022: Together at Last

A Recap of Grand Rapids Pride 2022: Together at Last

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Pride goers celebrate on June 18, 2022 at Calder Plaza, around the sculpture, La Grande Vitesse, commonly referred to as The Calder. (Braeden Pelton/The Collegiate)

By Braeden Pelton

For 34 years Grand Rapids has celebrated its queerness openly and proudly. Unfortunately for the last couple of years, it’s been restricted to a virtual setting. But Saturday June 18, the public was welcomed to Calder Plaza to finally bring back Pride.

Event organizers estimated attendance at roughly 20,000 people, and veteran Pride goers got to see quite the expansion from previous years. Although they may have lost the parade, the festival set up was larger than previous years. In the past, the booths have been situated in the street in front of the Calder but this year they stretched around the corner to Ottawa Avenue. 

Although there were many more booths this year, the majority of them were sponsors and corporations, not actual vendors. But the vendors that were there had broad selections of artwork from local artists, LGBTQ+ books, good food, and more. 

So many people dressed all out for the event with a plethora of various styles showcasing different parts of the community including people going full glam, dressing in elaborate drag, and others appearing in dark gothic-style clothing. It was just amazing having so many different aesthetics.

Many of the pride goers were eager to speak about their thoughts on Pride, one was Natalie Tyson, 18, of Grand Rapids, who said they were happy to be “coming out with friends to support a community that I’m a part of and appreciate being a part of.”

Event organizers upped their entertainment game with a whole day of interesting speakers and performers slated for the main stage next to the Calder. Elaborate and emotional pieces of slam poetry and music were performed to an audience of thousands. The event included drag performances by Beauty Beyond Drag, MI Drag Brunch, and more.

Protesters were present as they have been in the past, but they weren’t a huge obstacle. Even without police present at Pride this year, the protesters did not do much, and were shooed away by Pride-goers. 

As for the future of GR Pride, event organizer Jazz McKinney gave The Collegiate a statement on the event and future plans.

The festival was bigger this year. Are there plans to expand further?

“I’m not sure if we’re going to expand,” McKinney said. “We definitely want to keep accessibility in mind. Spacing has been great, it felt constricting in 2019.” 

How was it having private security instead of police?

“Nothing but good things,” McKinney said. “They interacted with the crowd positively. They took critiques (like) when told how they were facing made it look like they were protecting the protestors they immediately moved.” 

Were there any big problems with the protestors this year?

“Protestors tried to call GRPD on some of the attendees,” McKinney said. “Not to give them too much credit, GRPD called first asking if they needed to be there.” 

To stay on top of next year’s pride announcement and for any other general information please check out the GR Pride Center website, the festival page, or call 616-458-3511.

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