PAXTON — On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City, members of the LGBTQ community plan to march on the sidewalks of Paxton as a way to celebrate their gay pride.
The inaugural Paxton LGBTQ Pride March is set for Sunday, June 30, beginning with a gathering at 11 a.m. at Pells Park on the city’s east side, followed by marching at noon to the downtown area.
The event is being organized by Tyger McClure, a 54-year-old openly gay man who has been living in Paxton since his family moved there in 1969.
McClure said similar events have been conducted for decades in a number of larger cities — including Chicago and New York City — on the last Sunday of each June.
It was on June 28, 1969, when the Stonewall riots began. The series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community — against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City — are widely considered to constitute the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement in the U.S.
“So many of us had to flee our small hometowns to find safety, opportunity and community in larger cities,” McClure said. “Those large cities have had pride celebrations for decades. I thought it was time to bring us all to where we began, and where too many young people still feel isolated as they endure hardships. Let us shine the light of pride everywhere.”
McClure said not just members of the LGBTQ community are invited to participate. Also invited to participate are supporters — or “allies” as McClure calls them — of any sexual orientation or age.
The march in Paxton will leave Pells Park heading west on Orleans Street before turning north on Market Street and heading through the downtown, McClure said. Only sidewalks will be used in the march, as no streets will be closed off.
Featured in the march will be a 6-by-10-foot rainbow flag, McClure said.
If there is enough interest, McClure said, he hopes to turn the event into an annual event to be held on the last Sunday of each June in Paxton.