Watertown’s first LGBTQ+ pride event remains mostly peaceful

A small Wisconsin community's first LGBTQ+ pride event ran successfully, despite a little push back from the community.
Published: Jul. 30, 2022 at 10:22 PM CDT
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WATERTOWN, Wis. (WMTV) - A small Wisconsin community’s first LGBTQ+ pride event ran successfully, despite a little pushback from some community members.

Pride in the Park organizer Trent Kangas said his organization Unity Project of Watertown initially faced pushback against holding an event primarily intended to unite queer community members.

“People who are not very familiar with the queer community have been pushing back on it,” Kangas said. “But people who are more familiar with it are much more willing to either let it happen or accept it.”

His goal was to bring people together.

”A lot of the queer community was very underground, hidden, separated, and scattered,” Kangas said. “I was doing this as a way to say, ‘Hey! We’re here! We can actually communicate to each other!’”

Watertown resident Anna Schrock said she opposed the event because attendees had beliefs that went against her religion.

“My goal is to encourage other Christians to keep saying the same thing and to help other people know that there’s a heaven and there’s a hell and we need to love each other. But there are some things God cannot cross the line with,” Schrock said.

When asked to elaborate what “things” she was referring to, Schrock declined to give further details.

”No,” she said. “Because I know some folks it would make them feel bad, it would make them feel provoked and that’s not my place.”

Other religious leaders at the event disagree with Schrock and showed their support for queer people by hosting a “blessings booth”.

”The people on the other side of the fence… I don’t know! Apparently they read their bible differently than I do,” First Unitarian Society of Madison co-minister Kelly Asprooth-Jackson said.

Asprooth-Jackson caught wind of the pushback against the event and chose to drive down and show support.

”I get to spend my days helping people appreciate themselves and heal the wounds from their family’s origin or certain other communities of origin,” he said. “I get to support them in the fullness that they are and recognizing the sacredness within themselves.”

Kangas maintained the goal of the Riverside Park event was to make people feel at home in Watertown.

”We’re not trying to change the world or anything,” Kangas said. “We’re just trying to keep our community happy so that we can be who we are.”

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