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In 2022, Pride Month Will Be “Less Joyful Than It Has Been”

Thousands of people attended Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s Pride celebration last weekend under magnificent blue sky and a sea of rainbow balloons.

Attendees sweltered in their sequined attire as temperatures rose into the upper 90s; sweat mixed with body paint. In this state, like in others around the nation, where LGBTQ individuals have been targeted for discrimination, the atmosphere was joyful and defiant at the same time.

Attendee Peyton Yates told local station KELO, “Just seeing everybody coming down, just displaying their spirit, it made me nearly weep.” “I adore how proud of themselves Sioux Falls is. My outlook on the world is improved by it.

In Sioux Falls, and in all of South Dakota, this was only the third Pride parade to ever be staged on the city’s streets. However, this year there was a distinct feeling as well—one that was more urgent and unsure.

The political and cultural crosswinds have been blowing through this little, rural community of fewer than 200,000 people, as they have around the US, and it may seem an unexpected spot to capture this extraordinary Pride Month.

The marketing director for Sioux Falls Pride, Rachel Polan, told BuzzFeed News, “We’re all extremely aware of what’s occurring around the country.”

It will be unsettling and alarming to celebrate Pride in America in 2022. Marshals are receiving active shooting training in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where security has been stepped up. After receiving a “serious death threat,” teenage activists in Atlanta called off a public gathering for trans rights.

Additionally, more law enforcement and security personnel will be on duty in Seattle to oversee this weekend’s festivities after a man was detained and accused of committing a hate crime for threatening the first-ever Pride festival planned in Anacortes, which is 90 minutes to the north.

Since early June, when he was allegedly heard saying, “It used to be allowed to kill homosexual people,” at a neighbour and her wife, authorities have been searching for the guy.


This is also true in South Dakota. Sioux Falls was the home of two of the accused white nationalists who were among the 31 people detained for allegedly plotting to disrupt an Idaho Pride celebration the previous weekend.

The Sioux Falls event organisers increased security as a result of hearing about that occurrence. President of Pride Matt Neufeld admitted to BuzzFeed News, “I was a little nervous.”

We started messaging back and forth and putting together a plan as soon as the board came together.

Additional police and trained volunteers kept an eye out for potential troublemakers, while authorities scoured social media in advance of the big event for any discussion by prospective sabotage artists.

Additionally, the Pride celebration had been relocated from a city park to a parking lot, where hired security could, if necessary, impose admission restrictions. The Pride festival included booths, performances, and a drag queen story hour event for kids.

The Pride parade took place on June 18 in the centre of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Vincent Gene, via South Falls Pride

Violence-related threats are not the only ones, though. Sioux Falls Pride recently registered as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit with the IRS in response to a slew of new regulations in South Dakota that target the LGBTQ community, enabling them to spend the remainder of the year engaging in political lobbying to fight back.

According to Neufeld, this year’s procession was a visibility act rather than merely a celebration given the current political context.

With all of the legislation being discussed in South Dakota and throughout the nation, Neufeld said, “[it was important to bring] more awareness towards our community and our members who are feeling more attacked and under the microscope.” Now more than ever, pride is crucial.

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The idea that things might be slipping backwards is not unique to Neufeld. After ten years of notable progress for the LGBTQ community’s civil rights, which included the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the legalisation of same-sex marriage, and a significant increase in the cultural prominence and public acceptance of transgender and nonbinary Americans, many feel that the march of progress has abruptly come to an end in 2022.

According to a survey conducted by media watchdog GLAAD and released on Wednesday, roughly 70% of LGBTQ people believe that discrimination has gotten worse over the past two years.

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, lead plaintiff Jim Obergefell told BuzzFeed News, “I would honestly be lying if I said I weren’t afraid that it could all be, it could all go away.”

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