Rexburg hosts first-ever Pride event

Hayley Westenskow takes a walk with the members of the LGBTQ community Photo credit: Sabrina Benites

Love, hope and acceptance were some of the many emotions members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community felt as the first-ever Rexburg Pride was hosted. The event, arranged by Flourish Point on June 26, consisted of live music and performances, games, a pride walk, an art show, vendors and food trucks.

Rexburg Pride was created with the intent to show members of the LGBTQ+ community that they are loved, welcomed and have reason to celebrate who they are. Expressing their individuality and celebrating who they identify as is imperative to the members. Pride endorses a mosaic of feelings, such as the belief that everyone is accepted despite the paralyzing fear of rejection.

“I’ll walk with you,” modeled after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints children’s hymn, was the slogan used for this event.

local band performs for Rexburg Pride
local band performs for Rexburg Pride Photo credit: Sabrina Benites

Brooks McFadden, a board member of Flourish Point, expressed the meaning behind this. He spent the day distributing information regarding their mission statements and services available.

“We wanted to help people know that coexistence is possible and that we can get to know each other better,” McFadden said. “This is a harmless event. This is an event all about promoting greater love and understanding for each other.”

Amanda Cronin, a sophomore studying child development, explained that faithful members of the Church can still be members or allies of the LGBT+ community.

“In fact, I think Jesus would be an ally,” Cronin said.

Protestors stood across the street from event, but that didn’t stop participants from celebrating. A mass number of people showed up to show their love and support for each other. While Flourish Point initially expected a gathering of 200, well over 1,000 supporters showed up.

Rexburg locals illustrate their love for the LGBTQ community through flag dancing
Rexburg locals illustrate their love for the LGBTQ community through flag dancing Photo credit: Sabrina Benites

Spencer Beaumont, a sophomore studying software engineering, is an ally for the LGBTQ+ community.

“I’m glad that Flourish Point has fostered a community where the LGBTQ members can gather together and celebrate who they are,” Beaumont said. “Everyone should feel accepted and loved. Jesus loved everyone: The gay, the straights, the rich, the poor. So we should too.”

The event featured booths from different community groups and businesses. The Paul Mitchell Beauty School set up a booth where they offered free faceprint, chunky hair glitter and simple styling services for free. There were booths where event-goers could learn to make rainbow paper cranes or write affirmations in sidewalk chalk.

Lacey Hamilton, a Rexburg resident, said it was great to see so many members from the school and the community show up to express love.

“Being a local, I was raised in this environment where there was radio silence when it came to the whole community,” Hamilton said. “I cried. I pulled in, and I drove around the corner and I was grateful that I had to park so far away because it gave me a minute to kind of get it together.”

If you don't see God in all, you don't see God at all
If you don’t see God in all, you don’t see God at all Photo credit: Sabrina Benites

Mama Dragons, an organization dedicated to support, educate and empower mothers of LGBTQ children, offered hugs during the event, especially to children who felt unsupported by their own families.

“I never thought I’d see a Rexburg Pride,” said Lori Embree, a member of the Mama Dragons organization. “I’m very glad to see one.”

Embree said it’s important to “accept and love everyone, regardless of their sexuality. There is room for all at His table.”

While this was the historic first Pride event in Rexburg, many were expressing the hope that there would be many more to come.

“It’s the first Pride in Rexburg, it’s exciting,” Cronin said. “It probably won’t be the last.”