Thousands turn out for Big Sky Pride parade in Downtown Billings - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Thousands turn out for Big Sky Pride parade in Downtown Billings

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(MTN News) (MTN News)
(MTN News) (MTN News)
(MTN News) (MTN News)
(Big Sky Pride website) (Big Sky Pride website)

Big Sky Pride held its annual Pride Parade in Downtown Billings on Saturday as part of its "We Believe in Magic" weekend.

Approximately 50 organizations and groups were registered to be in the parade that started at 11 a.m.

Around 2,500 people participated in the parade, according to Kev Hamm, the Big Sky Pride 2017 organizer.

Groups participating in the parade included volunteers from Wells Fargo, ACLU of Montana, Planned Parenthood of Montana, Dykes on Bikes Montana, the the Montana Human Rights Network, Montana State University,  Montana Pride Foundation, Chicks with Sticks Drum Corp, PFLAG Butte, Billings DSA, Rainbow Coffee House and Grace United Methodist Church.

"Growing up in Montana and growing up in a a rural community you feel different. You feel weird. You feel alone," said Tyler Starkweather, a Billings City Council candidate who participated in the parade.

"So having this event just shows our youth that you're not what your parents say or what your church says or what your community says. You're beautiful," said Starkweather.

"If we are not visible, if we continue to remain invisible we don't matter," said Hamm.

"We will lose our rights. We will become nothing, and that's the thing. That's what many of our enemies would like to do," he said.

"They like to cut us down. They like to make us less than, and we need to stand up. What we do at Pride every year is we celebrate the wins that we've had," Hamm said.

Following the parade, the Big Sky Pride Rally was held on the steps of the federal courthouse from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Guest speakers and community members, including spokespeople for Gov. Bullock and Sen. Tester, spoke at the rally.

Other speakers included Rep. Jessica Karjala, Billings City Council member Brent Cromley, Billings mayoral candidate Danielle Egnew, Rep. Kelly McCarthy, Tyler Starkweather and Kev Hamm.

The festivities, which began at 8:30 a.m., continue the rest of Saturday all around the city.

On Sunday, an interfaith service and brunch will conclude the weekend.

For a full list of events click here.

RELATED: Billings to host first Pride event in almost 10 years

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