Proud of PrideFest

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Those intoxicating spring-like days of mid-March will probably feel like a distant memory by the time this issue of WiG hits the streets and mailboxes. But it was enough to reassure us that the sun is indeed working its way northward. Summer will return to Wisconsin and, along with it, PrideFest.

In fact, PrideFest was in the midst of unveiling its line-up of performers for this year’s event while spring was making its preview performance. As in years past, PrideFest organizers did not disappoint. There is something for everyone in their entertainment selections, all but guaranteeing another banner year for an event that was teetering on bankruptcy just seven years ago, but now stands on firm fiscal ground.

When it was announced that Lena Katina, the lead singer from t.A.T.u., Russia’s most successful musical act of all time, would appear at PrideFest, Web sites and bloggers all over the globe were abuzz with the news, shining an international spotlight on Wisconsin’s LGBT community. It will be Katina’s first solo appearance anywhere.

In addition to Katina and headliners Kathy Griffin, Patti LaBelle and Joan Rivers, PrideFest is presenting some of the best-known LGBT talent in the nation and the region, including lesbian singer/songwriters Melissa Ferrick and Rachel Sage, transsexual dance artist Amanda Lepore and Chicago’s Scott Free and Stella and the Heat Birds.

The fact that PrideFest is run entirely by local volunteers makes its achievements all the more impressive. Putting together PrideFest is a laborious and thankless undertaking. Its organizers work long hours behind the scenes, attending to countless and tedious details that go unnoticed because they are handled so effectively. They do this without city funding, without any pay and without nearly enough recognition.

Thanks to their efforts, Wisconsin hosts a Pride celebration every June that undisputedly ranks among the nation’s very best. They create a world-class venue where tens of thousands of LGBT people, their families and allies can come together proudly in a spirit of unity and celebration.

Let’s look forward to summer with gratitude for PrideFest’s organizers, especially board members Scott Gunkel (president), Gary Peterson (secretary), Paul Masterson, Kate Sherry and Greg Hutterer. They remind us each year of just how much our community can accomplish.

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