By Kevin Lopez
HOLLAND – Hundreds gathered to celebrate the 20th annual Holland Pride Festival June 24 at Centennial Park. The family friendly festival was a free event that featured music, booths, food trucks, and inflatable bouncy houses for kids.
The festival began at noon and ran until 5 p.m. in downtown Holland with hundreds of allies and those within the community showing up. Kate Leighton-Colburn, executive director of “Out on The Lakeshore,” said the festival is extremely important for Holland.
“I think it’s hugely important to have pride in Holland,” Leighton-Colburn said. “Holland has not been a historically affirming space for LGBTQ+ individuals, so having something like this where folks can come out and celebrate and have a good time, it’s really important.”
Grand Rapids Community College had a booth at the event, they also had a booth at Grand Rapids Pride.
Elino Cortes Figuereo, Program Manager of Strategic Outreach, felt it was important for GRCC to be at the festival to show support.
“We want to show that GRCC prides itself on being inclusive and accepting everyone and opening the doors for everyone who wants an education,” Figuereo said. “Pride in Holland is important because we have space for people, regardless of where people come from, what language they speak, or their sexual orientation, (GRCC) being here shows them we want them here. At the end of the day, we are humans first, we just have to love each other how we are.”
There were protesters at the event, with some who disagreed walking around with signs. The small protest inspired a counter protest with pride supporters demonstrating in support of the pride event, holding up flags to cover up protesters’ signs.
Skyler Trasciatti, from Hudsonville, is a GRCC student and was reassured that there was support from the community college.
“That is actually super important, I think that schools that are accepting help the student, who maybe doesn’t feel comfortable at home, they can just go to the school,” Trasciatti said. “Everyone at GRCC is just super welcoming and understanding of their students.”