HELENA, Mont. – June is Pride Month, a celebration of LGBT communities across the country. In Montana, Big Sky Pride is holding it’s 25th annual celebration in Helena. It will include events across the city all weekend and a speech from Gov. Steve Bullock.
A quarter century of pride in Montana is a big deal, says Kev Hamm, president of Big Sky Pride, but he adds that the push for equality is still young.
The first pride marches took place after the violent Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969.
“One of the things that I think people don’t realize is that we’re still the frontier,” Hamm points out. “We’re celebrating our 25th Pride, which is a great accomplishment for Montana, but you’re looking at – 1970 was the first time they had the first annual march in New York.”
Hamm says Pride celebrations in Montana grow every year. Events over the weekend will span the spectrum, including a kickoff at the Lewis and Clark Tap Room on Friday, comedy shows and a meet and greet with LGBT state legislators at Ten Mile Creek Brewery.
Hamm says marriage equality wasn’t the culmination of the LGBT movement and that many are still fighting for equality.
He points to Initiative 183, which is currently collecting signatures to appear on the November ballot.
I-183 would require people to use a restroom, locker room or changing room based on their sex assigned at birth. Hamm says it discriminates against transgender and non-binary Montanans.
“It’s based on fear and it’s run by a bunch of people who think that their beliefs are more important than our lives and it’s unacceptable,” he states. “It needs to change.
“That’s our big focus this year because that’s how they’ve chosen to attack our community. They’ve gone after some of our most vulnerable and we’re not going to stand for it.”
Supporters of the initiative need about 25,000 signatures by June 22 to qualify for the ballot