Following the Big Sky Pride parade and rally downtown, the focus shifted Saturday afternoon to North Park, where hundreds of people enjoyed Pride Fest together.
Among them was Griffin Brasher, 18, of Billings, who turned out wearing colorful Converse sneakers and striped boy short underwear and sporting a Pride flag painted on his chest.
“You’ve got to show yourself for who you are,” he said. “It is really nice not to care what people think, and it's nice to see the community turn out. You’ve got to love yourself,” he said, quoting Lady Gaga, “because you were born this way.”
Shauna Goubeaux was staffing a booth stocked by her wife, Nicole, who was selling part of her 1,200 volume LGBTQ book and music collection to raise money in the hope of one day opening a community resource center for gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
“Billings is the only urban center in Montana without one,” Goubeaux said.
Local organizers for Big Sky Pride have long discussed opening a center to help people “get in touch with resources, learn about adoption services and as a social place.”
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Walt Donges, who leads Southeast Montana Prime Timers, a group for older gay and bisexual men, said Pride Fest “is just another opportunity to see that we’re just the same.”
He praised local organizers’ efforts putting together Saturday’s parade, which he described as family friendly.
Katie Nelson worked with family and friends to design and print T-shirts for Saturday’s celebration. Her own rainbow-themed T-shirt was labeled “Rainbowlicious.”
Nelson also decorated the fur of Bailey, her 11-year-old goldendoodle, with rainbow-colored hairspray, dressing the dog in a birthday hat and a Pride handkerchief.
Bailey was a hit at North Park. A number of children stopped cooling off at the splash ground to ask Nelson for permission to pet Bailey. Both Nelson and Bailey happily complied.
“If someone loves you like you love them,” Nelson said, “it doesn’t matter.”