Golden Valley is set to become the first Twin Cities suburb to hold its own gay pride festival.
And why not? According to census figures, there are more gay couples in Golden Valley, as a percentage of households, than in any other city in Minnesota.
Golden Valley doesn’t expect to compete with the giant Twin Cities Pride festival, which annually draws tens of thousands of people to Loring Park in Minneapolis. But there’s plenty of room for Minnesotans to celebrate diversity and inclusion, said Peter Knaeble, one of the suburban festival’s organizers.
“It seemed odd that there was only one gay pride event for the whole Twin Cities,” Knaeble said.
He floated the idea of a suburban festival on Facebook and “got a lot of positive response back. There were people who said they wanted to help.”
The June 12 event is being funded and organized privately, not by the city. But unofficially many city leaders are supportive, including City Council Member Joanie Clausen, who’s on the organizing committee.
“We need to embrace everyone in our community and support them,” Clausen said. “People are people. I think we need to be accepting of everyone.”
Monica Meyer, executive director of OutFront Minnesota, confirmed that no suburban city in the state has held a pride festival — at least, not in her 15 years with the organization. She likes the idea.
“I think what’s really great about pride events is it’s a chance for people to come together and celebrate inclusion — to celebrate a Minnesota that includes all people,” Meyer said.
According to census figures compiled by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, Golden Valley has more gay couples — married and unmarried — than any other city in Minnesota.
Roughly 22 of every 1,000 households in Golden Valley, or 2.2 percent, self-identified as gay in the 2010 census. The institute said the true figure is likely about 15 percent higher, because some people choose not to identify themselves.
Golden Valley’s festival will be low-key, Knaeble said. There will be music, information booths and children’s events, but it won’t be as “raucous” as the giant festival in Minneapolis.
“We’re starting small,” he said. “We want to make sure it goes well because our plan is to make it an annual event.”
The Golden Valley festival will be held from noon to 4 p.m. at Brookview Park, 200 Brookview Parkway N. For more information, go to goldenvalleypride.com.