With June being Pride month, two of the smallest communities in Wisconsin have decided to hold Pride events to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. Aniwa, a village in Shawano County for example, may have only 243 people but The Motorama Auto Museum hosted Central Wisconsin Pride June 17-19. Stockholm, with an even smaller population of just 64, half of which are LGBTQ+, in western Wisconsin’s Pepin County on June 11th hosted Lake Pepin Pride making Stockholm the smallest village in Wisconsin and likely among the smallest communities in the world to hold Pride festivities. The southwestern Wisconsin city of Viroqua, which has a population of around 4,500, also hosted a Pride event on June 18th. For those in Wisconsin interested in attending a Pride event, Travel Wisconsin has listed 17 Pride festivals in the state between June and September this year.
Lake Pepin Pride organizer Jennifer Lindahl said “This is so important because I want our trans community, I want our queer community in general to know they are loved, and we’re going to love you.” Support from people like Jennifer can be a great source of comfort for LGBTQ+ people during Pride month given the rise of extremist rhetoric against the community that has become mainstream in recent years, specifically targeting transgender indviduals as well as LGBTQ+ children. This rhetoric has created a culture war in the United States today where right wing extremists feel justified in committing acts of domestic terrorism against LGBTQ+ people during Pride month, and over 200 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in various state legislatures across the country.
In Wisconsin, there were a number of bills introduced that would restrict healthcare for transgender youth, exclude transgender youth from athletics, and prevent cities and other local government entities from passing LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections that are more expansive than the protections offered at the state level. It is important to stand in solidarity with those in your life who are LGBTQ+ and remember that Pride at its core is a celebration of the history and ongoing movement to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices against LGBTQ+ people not just in the United States but around the world and to foster change where anyone can live their life in peace and prosperity.