By Kevin Stilley
MANHATTAN - The first Little Apple Pride celebration was held during K-State’s Open House Weekend in April 2010. A rally including a drag show was hosted by K-State’s LGBT and Allies at Triangle Park in Aggieville. Nearly 100 were in attendance.
The following year, a parade was added to the event. Participants marched from Manhattan’s First Congregational Church to Aggieville. There were rainbow flags and groups carrying banners representing various allied organizations from the Manhattan/Junction City area.
Sam Brinton says this of the first parade: “So, it’s the day of the first parade. We’ve spent months and months in planning. We did all the paperwork and had the permits. We start getting people ready and realize there is no police escort. People start freaking out.
“I march into the police station covered in glitter, in my tall heels, and lace-up Apple Bottom jeans. Their eyes go wide. I say, ‘You guaranteed us a police escort. We’ve paid the fees. Now I need you to follow me and escort this parade.’ They got in their car and we showed up to the parade. I’ll never forget that day!”
This event continues to grow every year. Sponsors of the event include the Junction City Teddy Bears, the Flint Hills Human Rights Project, Flint Hills PFLAG, Flint Hills Pride, K-State’s SAGA (formerly LBGT and Allies), LGBT Resource Center, and Student Governing Association, as well as several local businesses and individuals.
A silent auction of items donated by individuals and area businesses helps raise funds for the event, as do t-shirt sales. Local politicos and LGBT activists are invited to speak. A DJ is always present to keep everyone hopping, and a drag show is staged for entertainment. This is a family-friendly event, and various kids’ activities are included.
The response from the Manhattan community has been overwhelmingly positive. Manhattan is proving to be a progressive community as a whole. Last fall, gender identity and sexual orientation were added as protected classes to the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.
In 2016, the event was forced to move to Manhattan City Park due to construction in Aggieville. This proved to be fortuitous as participation was larger than ever. More than 200 marched in the parade, and approximately 400 attended the celebration in the park.
The 8th Annual Little Apple Pride will be bigger than ever. In keeping with recent local events, the theme is “Moving Forward,” and Mayor Usha Reddi has been invited to serve as Grand Marshall of the parade and keynote speaker at the rally. A full parade permit has been obtained, so vehicles and floats will be allowed to participate. Two live music acts have been added to the entertainment lineup.
A Pride Prince and Princess Pageant will be held April 1. This amateur event will raise funds for the event, and winners will have a place of honor in the parade and be recognized at the rally.
Finally, for the first time, Little Apple Pride has been scheduled on a different weekend than K-State’s Open House. This allows more KSU students and faculty to participate. Besides SAGA and the LGBT Resource Center, KSU is home to the Gender Collective; a chapter of LGVMA, the Lesbian and Gay Veterinary Medicine Association; oSTEM, out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; and an LGBT faculty group.
Everyone is welcome April 22 to celebrate diversity in the Little Apple. For more details, see the ad on page four in this edition of Liberty Press. l