LGBTQ+ community celebrated with 3rd annual Menomonie Pride Picnic

Published: Jun. 4, 2023 at 7:18 PM CDT
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MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) - With love and acceptance in the air, members and supporters of the LGBTQIA+ community came together in Menomonie for the 3rd annual Pride Picnic.

Organizers said it is important to have this show of support, no matter how small the community.

“If you’re in the minority in a small town in any way, it can be really challenging. I think it’s rare for these folks, especially kids, to feel like they have a loving community around them,” said Charis Collins with Menomonie Pride.

Picnic-goers enjoyed free snacks and swag, but also learned about the resources available to those in the community.

Aerie Kadlec and Axell Dickens are high schoolers, young and proud of who they are and happy to see others in the same place.

“It’s also fun when you come around and see your classmates you didn’t know were a part of pride wearing their flags or wearing something completely different and out of their comfort zone at school,” said Dickens.

The two wish for love and acceptance for those not yet ready to live in their truth.

“If you are still trying to find yourself, something I struggled with thinking that I was faking it just to fit in with my friends, if you feel like you are faking it, you are most likely not. There’s not wrong way to express yourself,” said Kadlec.

“I feel that the more I express myself this way, the more my friends accept me, my family and the community,” said Dickens. “You could be going through different phases figuring out who you are.”

“That’s how I kind of figured myself out,” said Kadlec.

As LGBTQIA+ youth figure out who they are, organizers said it is key to be nothing but supportive, allowing them to have a shot at a bright future.

“And even my son who is 16, and he doesn’t express a lot of emotion, he came up to me just before I left and gave me a hug and said thank you so much for doing this. And it just means a lot to kids his age,” said Collins.

The event runs on donations, if you would like to help out Charis Collins could be reached on Facebook.