Midwest QueerFest Coming to Washington Square Park
Forty-two years after the uprisings at New York’s Stonewall Inn brought gay rights to the attention of America, EQUAL (Empowering Queer Activists and Leaders) is hosting its first annual Midwest QueerFest from 3 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, July 2, in Washington Square Park to celebrate the original and ongoing energy of LGBTQ activism.
Wick Thomas, president of EQUAL’s board of directors, said the Stonewall Riots “helped launch a national movement toward LGBTQ equality. It is in the spirit of the Stonewall Riots that EQUAL created Midwest QueerFest — to celebrate radical activism, to highlight local queer and allied artists and performers, to help explain the intersections of social justice work and to come together in public space to truly celebrate our community, activism and art.”
Organizations with tables at the event will be progressive and social justice-oriented. Both standard LGBTQ groups and those not necessarily pegged as queer will have interactive exhibits, not just static displays. Organizers encourage attendees to bring picnic items, sunscreen, hula-hoops, footballs, volleyballs and other public park-friendly recreation items.
A drag race with both flat and 3-inch (minimum) high-heel categories will be staged, along with the following musical acts:
- The B’Dinas
- Under The Black Sails
- The Fae of Wildwood
- DJ Psyclops
- Daisy Buckët and her d’Lux Sunday's girls
There will be no corporate sponsorships for Midwest QueerFest, and it will be a drug- and alcohol-free space. EQUAL welcomes all to this free, public event.
Washington Square Park is located directly north of Crown Center across Pershing Road, between Main Street and Grand Boulevard. Street parking is available on the perimeter. Festival-goers may also park free in the Crown Center retail parking garage and use the overhead pedestrian link to access the green space. Public transit information is available at kcata.org or at Google Transit.
EQUAL (Empowering Queer Activists and Leaders)
EQUAL is a grassroots organization for youth. Founded four years ago and run by youth, EQUAL functions as a gay-straight alliance (GSA) network and supports greater Kansas City’s LGBTQ young people. It mentors youth through leadership development training and conferences, regular meetings, direct actions and annual events.
Through its Young Trans Social Group, The Call Out of Uganda, Day of Silence, and Youth Empowerment Summits, the core organizing of the Phoenix Leadership Team epitomizes peer-based direction, youth-led justice and universal values of equality. The new EQUAL Watch is also activated to track ex-gay ministries, many of which are headquartered locally.
EQUALizers look forward to working in concert with Chely Wright’s new LIKEME Lighthouse project (likemelighthouse.org) and EQUAL is planning to open its own safe and welcoming drop-in youth center for area youth. For more information on this, ongoing EQUAL activities and support for LGBTQ youth, go to equalcenter.org.
Later this summer, look for information on EQUAL’s back-to-school celebration featuring Whoop Dee Doo.
3 to 10:30 p.m. July 2
Washington Square Park
100 Pershing Rd. l Kansas City, Mo.