Tower Grove Pride

How pride events influence the community

A week ago, I attended the Tower Grove Pride festival. Located in downtown St. Louis between Arsenal Street and Grand Boulevard, the event took place Sept. 24-25. There was a massive turn out and stretched throughout almost all of Tower Grove Park. The paths were packed with people lining up to get fresh food from food trucks and buy jewelry, art and clothes from local vendors. Of course, everyone and everything was decked out in rainbow attire, including my dog that attended the event with me. Overall, it was a fun way to celebrate LGBTQ+ pride.

That is all hunky-dory, but I would like to give my word about how important events like these truly are. Most folks know that June is pride month, so that is usually when you see all the pride events. Typically, parades and festivals celebrating LGBTQ+ pride are restricted to that month and are unseen throughout the year. This is why Tower Grove Pride surprised me, because I have truly never seen anything like it. It is so valuable in the minds of queer folks like myself seeing that queer and trans pride is now being acknowledged and celebrated all year. Normalizing the presence of LGBTQ+ people everywhere seems like an unattainable goal sometimes, but it is times like this that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Outside of the importance within the queer community, large scale events like this are a big source of revenue for small businesses local to St. Louis. Some vendors have a largely LGBTQ+ focused audience, and so festivals like these are a great platform for those businesses. I saw local shops and bakeries I myself have visited many times selling at Tower Grove Pride, and it was a really charming thing to see. Giving the artists and creators of St. Louis a place to show off their work and get the revenue they deserve is needed in order to keep these businesses around. 

However, all of this praise cannot come without talking about the drawbacks of pride festivals. Tower Grove Pride is labeled as a “family friendly” event. While the festival itself is in fact made for all ages, coordinators cannot control the PG-13ness of those attending. Some of the folks who come to pride parades and festivals are not always dressed very conservatively. I say this with no ill will to the people who do choose to dress this way, but there is something to be said about wearing next to nothing to an event that children attend. Events like these should be a way to introduce children to diversity and celebrate it, not deter them from it. 

So, all that being said, I look forward to attending more events like this one in the future, and I hope you consider attending local festivals in St. Louis, if not one celebrating pride. Supporting our community is one of the most important things we can do as St. Louis residents.