South’s Proud and North’s Gay-Straight Alliance Pridefest booth debut


Photo credits to Lilly Thomas.

Hanh Tam Bui, Staff Writer

Bloomington Pridefest is approaching fast on August 31. East Kirkwood Avenue will be closed off for the festivities starting at 2 p.m. and ending at 11 p.m. The sixth annual event is dedicated to celebrating LGBT+ culture, as well as the community of locals and visitors. Pridefest is open for all ages and has activities for everyone, such as live entertainment, vendor booths from local nonprofits and businesses, activities for the kids, food trucks, and so much more. 

Along with Bloomington Pride, the organization responsible for Pridefest, there are many LGBT+ organizations for members and allies of the diverse community. One being Bloomington High School South’s own PROUD, a club dedicated to providing a safe space for kids of different gender identities and sexualities, as well as bringing people together and raising awareness about the community. While having a presence in our school, PROUD, along with Bloomington High School North’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), will also be at Bloomington Pride with their own booth. 

Jayden Gray, one of the leaders for BHSS PROUD, was kind enough to talk in depth about the booth for the upcoming event. The idea of featuring the club came to mind a few months to a year ago, and after PROUD visited North GSA to see how it was operated, the two clubs eventually came to a unanimous conclusion to make the booth together, especially since the two schools have never had a booth at Pridefest before. “We thought that we should work together because a combined effort could end up spreading a better message than trying to do two indivudal ones… also showing that working together is overall better no matter what,” said Gray.

For the booth, PROUD and North GSA plan to have different club members volunteer in shifts throughout the day, telling people about the respective clubs, the importance of them, resources that people can use to educate themselves on LGBT matters, and how to support and/or join PROUD or North GSA. 

PROUD and North GSA plan for their booth to have different volunteers to share their voices, as well as featuring a poster that details their different clubs, the importance of them, why it’s a great idea to join them, and, in order to spread awareness, have different resources on how to learn more about the LGBT community. They’ll also have resources on ways people can continue educating themselves, and how to join and/or support PROUD and North GSA. 

“What the club’s overall goal is to have people leave knowing more than they did before, or if not knowing more, considering the importance of these things. So they can start thinking about it more, possibly spreading the word and hopefully help create a more accepting environment,” said Gray.

As the big day looms ever closer, Gray shared the joys and hardships that have come from working on the booth. “The joys so far have been we all have been anticipating the day, and thinking about how we hopefully will complete our goal and that has been making us very motivated to go through with it. The most stressful part is knowing that we are starting to run low on time and that we aren’t able to incorporate every idea, so we have to actually work to resolve all these issues,” said Gray. Additionally, he also shared how having the booth this year would be impactful, as it is both PROUD and GSA’s first year being among the different organizations present on Kirkwood for the big day.