Pride Parade

The LGBT Pride Parade stretches down Third Avenue North in Billings in 2008. This weekend Big Sky Pride returns to Billings after a nine-year absence.

BOB ZELLAR, Gazette Staff

After nearly a decade away, Big Sky Pride, dubbed “We Believe in Magic,” returns to Billings this week with several fun and educational events scattered around the city.

The most visible event, which begins at 11 a.m. Saturday and is expected to attract a crowd of thousands, will be the Big Sky Pride parade downtown. Following the parade, a noon rally will be held on the lawn of the James F. Battin Federal Courthouse, 2601 Second Ave. N.

“Picture the gayest, glitteriest rainbow you can imagine, and then put people in it,” Kev Hamm, president of Big Sky Pride, said of the parade. “People start watching the parade, and pretty soon they join in, because it’s for everybody. It is gay pride and it is who we are, but the reason we can do this is everyone who stands with us.”

Hamm promised that rally speakers, including a number of office-holders, will be both “short and sweet.”

Hamm, who lives in Helena, praised local organizers for working with local businesses and organizations to stage events at multiple venues throughout town. One of the prime gathering spots will be North Park, where Pride Fest, complete with entertainment and lawn games, will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday.

“We don’t win if we don’t engage our allies,” Hamm said. “A lot of people love us, but they forget (in between Pride gatherings), because it’s not their fight. We remind them every year that we have made big strides forward.”

Past Big Sky Pride host cities, including Great Falls, “love us because we had a huge economic impact there,” he said. “So now, when we go back, the businesses who were not allies would all like to see us back. That change is how we win.”

This year’s event budget is about $23,000, Hamm said.

“It’s all paid for by donations, and we work hard to raise money to do this,” he said. Hamm and other organizers “don’t get a dime for doing this — we just get reimbursed for our expenses. We want this to be as close to free as possible, and we want businesses to get good business from us.”

The licensed preschool at Billings First Church, 310 N. 27th St., will provide child care from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday for $25 per child.

Many Big Sky Pride events are free, but some carry a cover charge. Event descriptions are available at bigskypride.com/events.

Planned events include:

  • Projectile Queer Comedy, 8-10 p.m. Thursday at The Loft Dance Club, 1123 First Ave. North
  • Pride Kickoff Glow Party, 10 p.m. Thursday through 2 a.m. Friday at The Loft. Attendees are asked to wear white. A little body paint applied on site will help them glow even brighter.
  • Danielle Egnew will sing at The Pub Station, 2502 First Ave. N., from 6-7 p.m. Friday. Queer on their Feet and the comedian Frank Liotti will follow.
  • Fish Stix “We Are Family” concert, 8-10 p.m. Friday at The Loft.
  • LGBT+ film weekend begins at Art House Cinema and Pub, 109 N. 20th St., at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
  • Pancake breakfast from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Saturday at First Church Billings.
  • Parade lineup begins at 10 a.m. Saturday along Third Avenue North
  • Lipstick and Lipsynch Drag Show, 7-10 p.m. Saturday at North Park
  • Pride night dance party at American Legion Post 4, 9 p.m. Saturday, 1540 Broadwater Ave.
  • Dance party Rainbowlution, 9 p.m. Saturday at the NOVA Center for the Performing Arts, 2317 Montana Ave., for young people ages 13-18
  • Interfaith service, 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Billings First Church
  • Recovery brunch, 10 a.m.-noon Sunday, Last Chance Pub & Cider Mill, 2203 Montana Ave.
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City Government Reporter

City reporter for The Billings Gazette.