By Jenny Maurer
I started attending the Milwaukee LGBT pride festival in 2010 when I was a member of my university’s LGBT alliance. It was festive, passionate and exuded the humble friendliness that the Midwest is known for. I’ve been back four times since and it has always felt different each visit; current events occurred, trends changed. Last year was one of the best times I have had; we went to see a very artistic production of the rock musical, Hedwig and the angry Inch, which featured giant inflatable gummy bears and an electric light up cowboy hat. It was a warm summer evening filled with people in all kinds of colorful clothing with floral patterns and neon headware seeming to be the order of the day.
This year, however, it was obviously a little different. With the quarantine in effect, Milwaukee’s oldest gay bar, This Is It, decided to host a few gay pride events after the annual pride festival was canceled. The events occurred from the evening of Thursday June 4th to Sunday June 7th. I did not attend every streamed event, but the ones I did made a good effort at keeping the spirit of perseverance. I particularly enjoyed the drag queen showcases and the DJ Sets for their aesthetics. Each performer had their own style in terms of how they dressed or decorated their space. One “queen” dressed in a pink PVC jumpsuit right out of the 70s while another wore a leopard print cape. In terms of DJs, the standout for artistic inventiveness has to go to Kurtis Rad, who surrounded his turntable set up with a playful clip art backdrop that invoked a child playing on a 90s era computer art program.
While these shows provided a bit of relief from the stress of today’s world, it nonetheless felt lonely. One of the best things about Pridefest is meeting different people while taking in the carefree, fun atmosphere and celebrating the start of summer. It’s admittedly more humble and less exciting to watch shows on twitch with chat window being the only connection to other people. I completely understand the necessity for these events as the covid 19 rate seems to be both rising and slightly dipping. It’s also obviously far better to have events online than skip a year altogether. However, I look forward to visiting festival grounds to bask in the June weather and make friends in 2021.