The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative, Provides Grant to Southeast Kansas Pride

Project Q&A, Montgomery County, Kansas' LGBTQ and Allies social group began in September 2016. Their mission is to raise awareness for the LGBTQ community in Southeast Kansas. To mark their one year anniversary and to promote their mission they held SEK Pride in Independence, KS. This historic event was the first ever LGBTQ Pride celebration in Montgomery County. Project Q&A set out on a mission to provide a quality Pride celebration that featured events for the entire community. 

SEK Pride was held on September 8 and 9, 2017, with a Pre-Pride Social that coincided with their First Thursday Social on September 7th. On Friday, September 8 there was a Pride Family Movie night. This event was attended by people of all ages, parents brought their LGBTQ teens, Allies came out in support, and LGBTQ individuals celebrated this significant event at the historic Booth Hotel in Independence, KS.  On Saturday, September 9 downtown rural America received a fabulous show. That afternoon at Eclectix Art Gallery, the first ever drag show took place in Independence. The show featured a burlesque performer from Kansas City, MO, two drag queens from Wichita, KS, and the event was emceed by Lady Bearica Andrews from Brooklyn, NY. The highlight of SEK Pride was the community potluck dinner held at the Booth Hotel. Featured speakers included a local preacher, an out sheriff's deputy, and a keynote by Kassie Thornton from Los Angeles, CA. The closing event was a pub crawl through downtown Independence, where rainbow flags were waved freely and without fear.

The entire event had an attendance of over 300, including the Pre-Pride Social. The community was overwhelmingly accepting, and Project Q&A received support for multiple local businesses and community members. Thanks to a donation from the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative Project Q&A were able to exceed expectations. While the event itself was an inspiration, the highlight was seeing LGBTQ youth and adults have the expression on their face of finally being able to candidly be their true selves in the place they call home. 

Bob Kelly