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'You're not alone': Boise Pride wraps up peacefully with high attendance

A black hat with the words Love More embroidered in rainbow colors adorns the head of an 11 year old attendee of Boise Pride. Their face is not visible. A sticker with the words They/them is on the hat.
Julie Luchetta
Boise State Public Radio
An 11 year old shows off their outfit for Boise Pride.

Boise Pride received a lot of attention last week after the Idaho GOP urged sponsors to drop out of the event. Though a handful of them did, the festival celebrating the LGBTQ+ community ended peacefully.

On the last day, the mood throughout Cecil D. Andrus Park was joyful.

Attendees walked by half a dozen protesters at the entrance without paying them much notice. People of all ages danced along with performers set up on a big stage in front of the Capitol. Kids waited in line to get their faces painted and sponsors gave out rainbow crowns and bracelets.

An 11-year-old who came with their mom, and asked not to be named in this story, was visibly stoked to be there.

“It’s amazing, I love Pride,” they said. It makes you feel like you can be yourself.”

Their mother was hesitant to come after hearing about the controversy in the news. The festival’s organizers postponed one of the scheduled events before the weekend, citing safety concerns for festival-goers and performers.

But as a mom, she wanted her child who is non-binary, to feel supported. She’s glad they came.

“The energy you feel right away is what we need more of. Just people being who they are, not feeling any shame," she said. "When you come here, you really feel that. People want to love and be loved, just like anybody else."

Her kid appeared unphased by it all.

“Sometimes there are people that don’t support,” they said, “and I walk away from it cuz it’s what they believe and I’m not one to judge.”

A person dressed in a full bat costume, with their back to the camera, is standing in front of protesters at the entrance of the Boise Pride Festival. Their raised arms and wings block the view of a man holding a sign that says "God Commands All Men Everywhere To Repent."
Julie Luchetta
Boise State Public Radio
A person dressed in a full bat costume stands near protesters to block their sign from festival goes entering the park.

Executive director of Boise Pride, Donald Williamson, said attendance was not affected and called the event a success.

After a handful of sponsors withdrew, many new ones stepped in, he said.

"It's easy to be a supporter. Quote, unquote, when it's all butterflies and rainbows," he said. "But when it gets messy and you have to roll up your sleeves, that's when it's really needed. That's when that support is also noticed by the community.

Prior to sponsors dropping out, Williamson said he had to turn down requests from vendors because there weren't enough slots at the park for booths.

A white banner with the Boise Pride Festival logo on the top left corner shows listed sponsors. One sponsor's brand that dropped out days before the event is cut out of the canvas, revealing a hole instead of a logo.
Julie Luchetta
Boise State Public Radio
A banner at Boise Pride shows some last minute drop-out sponsor's logo cut out.

“A bright spot out of all of that was this outpouring of support from organizations and people all around the state, all around the Treasure Valley,” he said. “It's nice to have events like this to remind you that you're not alone. You have this base of support around you in the community.”

The Parade was the largest in the festival’s 33 years of history, Williamson added.

Correction: A previous audio version stated the event took place at Julia Davis Park.

As the Canyon County reporter, I cover the Latina/o/x communities and agricultural hub of the Treasure Valley. I’m super invested in local journalism and social equity, and very grateful to be working in Idaho.