TOWER GROVE PARK – Thousands packed into Tower Grove Park on Saturday for what is supposed to be the “smaller” gathering for St. Louis PrideFest, but has never lost the look of the main event.
Many in attendance say the afternoon in the park is the way to spend the Pride weekend, even if the parade and larger festival downtown, with their ever-growing mainstream appeal, will get more attention.
“Downtown is still very busy, so I think it’s good to have a little bit of the overflow here in the park,” Pride regular Michael Holly said. “I like this setting better than being on the asphalt downtown.”
Southsider and MetroSTL.com publisher Antonio French was manning a booth, handing out copies of the newspaper. French is no stranger to Pride events from his days in city politics, and he said the Tower Grove event always had a special feel.
“I’ve been participating in Pride since the downtown Pride was over here in south St. Louis,” French recalled. “The organization and community people kept it going here in Tower Grove Park even after it went downtown, and I think that’s great. We’re always here to support that.”
For some, however, it was an entirely new experience. Meredith Bousman said a number of life changes had drawn her to the festival.
“I’ve recently come out as (polysexual) and (pansexual), and I have a lot of friends who are LGBTQ, and I figured this was a good way to support them. And I’ve got friends whose children are transgender, so I’m out giving mom hugs today,” she said pointing to her “Free Mom Hugs” T-shirt.
“Everybody’s happy to be here. Everybody’s really in a good mood, and that’s wonderful to see. I haven’t seen anyone that doesn’t feel safe, and that’s important,” she said. “I love being part of a community that’s nonjudgmental.”
The SouthSider newspaper, owner of MetroSTL.com, was a paid sponsor of the Tower Grove Park Pride event.