PADUCAH – Many small rural communities are creating safe spaces and pride events for their communities. Western Kentucky activists with OUT Paducah are leading this movement and were asked to be the guest of honor for a large Pride event.
On June 29, Smedley Yeiser is hosting Pride Riot, a one night only pop-up venue to honor 50 years of pride since the Stonewall riots. OUT Paducah is the guest of honor for the event.
It’s also to celebrate where Paducah is now, where it’s been, and where it’s going with LGBTQ+ Pride, said Pride Riot event coordinator Jeremy Byassee.
“With political, religious and moral debates, especially here in the Bible Belt, I don’t think there’s any other way to get fairness and equality without coming together despite those issues with diversity,” Byassee said. “I genuinely feel everyone is seeking support from one another with that common goal of tolerance and freedom.”
The mission of OUT Paducah is to provide an accepting environment to enhance the personal growth of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth in McCracken County. OUT Paducah advocates for community awareness and acceptance of young people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
Through outreach, OUT Paducah, service providers learn about and increase their sensitivity to the needs of sexual minority youth. OUT Paducah provides LGBTQ youth with positive role models. It promotes their self-esteem and the integration of these youth into the larger community. OUT Paducah assists families with resources and referrals.
The venue for Pride Riot, Smedley Yeiser+Juniper Room, is owned by very supportive and wonderful straight allies, Byassee said.
“There will be a stage set up with 12 various entertainers, plus me, your host,” he said.
There will be Pride Drag King and Queen of Southern Illinois, and the rest are all local queens, belly dancers, a few burlesque artists and a fire breathing act!
“My event, PRIDE RIOT, has had very little backlash,” Byassee said. “And it doesn’t faze me a bit. It’s beyond humbling for me to have an outweighing amount of support. When I was 21, I know things would have been a lot different if I could go to space to see or maybe even perform in a drag show”
After show party will include dancing and karaoke! The show cover is $10 and the entire event is for 21 and over.