40 Years of Pride – part 2

In 1978 an entire week was devoted to celebrating Gay Pride in Kansas City.  Culminating in the picnic described in this Kansas City Times article from June 19, the local Gay Pride Week coincided with similar commemorations across the country.  On Friday the 16th over 250 Kansas Citians marched in a parade through downtown, and a community picnic took place the following Sunday.  Though sponsored by the Christopher Street Association (KC’s local advocacy group at the time) and members of the National Gay Task Force, the picnic, which appears to have been held in Rosedale Park in KCK, was hastily thrown together just five days prior!  Despite that, word spread quickly and over 400 people were in attendance.  Part of the draw may have been the appearance of Air Force Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, who had gained notoriety three years earlier appearing on the cover of Time magazine as an out service member fighting his discharge from the service.

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Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the newspaper article from the vantage point of hindsight is the final quote from a picnic participant.  Referring to challenges against ordinances that discriminate against gays and lesbians, one young man stated “It may be 100 years before we’re ready for that”.  Little did he know…

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