HELENA – Big Sky Pride returns to Helena this weekend for its 25th year and comes with a full schedule of events.
The kick-off for Pride weekend began Friday afternoon with a celebration at Lewis & Clark Brewing Company where people picked up their rainbow colored attire, stickers, magnets, and a copy of the “gay agenda” which lists this weekend’s events.
Large crowds of visitors are expected to come from across the state for the drag shows, parades, and community gatherings at businesses.
Nikolas Griffith, a Big Sky Pride volunteer on the planning committee, said Montana’s treatment of the LGBT community has drastically changed since the first pride was held in the Capital City more than two decades ago.
"We’ve come so far since 25 years ago when we started this event and people were throwing things at speakers,” Griffith said. “We have an entire community who’s really embraced both the dignity and livelihood that is the LGBTQ+ community in Montana."
On Friday, the Pride Foundation also acknowledged nine Montana youth that were awarded with scholarships totaling more than $34,000 dollars. The scholarships are given to LGBT youth who apply and are interested in pursing higher education. The Pride Foundation offers the scholarships across five states and awarded $535,000 to applicants this year.
The parade, perhaps the biggest attraction of pride weekend, starts at 11 a.m. in Helena and goes until noon. The parade starts on Front Street, between Neill Avenue and 13th Street and goes up to Last Chance Gulch to Pioneer Park.
The parade ends in the park with a pride festival and rally. Guests at the rally will include Governor Steve Bullock and Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins.
While the forecast calls for wet weather Saturday, Griffith said the parade will go on. However, some events may be moved to indoor spaces like parking garages.