LOWELL, Mich. — With colorful flags and signs of acceptance, it was hard to miss the pride beaming in Lowell on Saturday.
Lowell PRIDE hosted the city’s first-ever event aimed at supporting members of the LGBTQ+ community. It happened along the city’s downtown Riverwalk.
In addition to speakers throughout the afternoon, including a drag queen story hour and LGBTQ+ 101 panel, the event featured over 50 vendors, crafters and nonprofits.
“I think it’s going to help people,” said Cathleen Sage, an attendee.
“It gives everyone the option to learn and to have people feel like they can be themselves,” said Megan Shaver, another attendee.
It’s estimated hundreds of people attended.
“I didn’t have a supportive family, and I didn’t have a supportive community. I didn’t feel like I ever quite fit in,” said Marissa Linderman. “I think that having events like this makes it very inclusive. I think that we need to support that more because everybody deserves to feel like they belong somewhere.”
Linderman says it was her first PRIDE event since coming out as a queer woman.
“I am so much happier and healthier, and I feel like I’m coming into my own self,” said Linderman.
Lowell PRIDE organizer, Nicole Lintemuth, lists experiences like Linderman’s as the reason why the group wanted to plan the event.
Lintemuth says it’s important to show it’s okay to be gay, especially in more rural areas.
“I think especially in small communities it’s important to just have that visibility, in bringing that normalcy to our community,” said Lintemuth. “We all live here; we’re a part of this community. We shouldn’t have to hide or travel somewhere else to get to express who we are fully.”
To learn more about Lowell PRIDE, click here.
For LGBTQ+ people seeking resources locally, Lintemuth recommends Lowell High School’s Gay Straight Alliance club for teenagers or Kent District Library’s Lowell branch.
For organizations in the broader West Michigan area, click here.