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Nate George, left, and Juan Moreno help place about 250 rainbow flags in the medians of downtown Main Street on Tuesday in celebration of Longmont Pride Week.
Nate George, left, and Juan Moreno help place about 250 rainbow flags in the medians of downtown Main Street on Tuesday in celebration of Longmont Pride Week.

Nearly 20 years ago Ann Noonan and some friends tentatively hung rainbow banners and balloons from a bench in Thompson Park as part of Longmont’s first gay pride celebration.

“A lot of longtime Longmont people showed up who were very anxious about being in a public place,” she said. “They kept watching the streets to see who was driving by, but it was also a huge relief for them. They had never had anything in the way of support from their community before, and by creating a space for people to gather we learned there were a lot of others like us. It started a feeling of community. “

That first year Noonan said maybe 40 or 50 people showed up, but as it grew each year so, too, did the group’s confidence in being able to openly express themselves without fear of repercussions. Eventually, they moved the parade to more public spaces like Sunset Pool and held monthly potlucks around town — traditions that continue to this day.

“Historically Longmont has been thought of as a place where there isn’t acceptance in diversity of thought or sexual orientation, so that visibility is important for the mental health and safety of LGBTQ people in the city of Longmont,” said Mardi Moore, executive director of advocacy group Out Boulder County. “To be affirmed in identity and sexual orientation matters and it makes for a healthier community.”

Once students with the St. Vrain Valley Safe Schools Coalition got involved shortly after its founding in 2009, Noonan said the festivities really took off. Eventually, the festival was brought downtown where it has continued to expand as Out Boulder County took over promotion responsibilities.

Last year, more than 200 people attended the celebration, but with a whole week of events, concerts, art, activism and carnivalesque fun — including a dunk tank and a huge youth and family area — Moore expects an even bigger crowd this year.

A full schedule for all of the Pride Week events can be found at The main event will begin after the Longmont Pride Visibility March at 1:20 p.m. Saturday. Those who wish to join in the fun should plan to meet at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Main Street.

With sponsors including Seagate, Left Hand Church, and the Boulder County Bombers roller derby league, Longmont Pride Week has become a symbol to many in LGBTQ community representing just how far they’ve come.

“This community is continuing to tighten,” Moore said. “Just this morning people were honking in support of us lining the streets with rainbow flags. We know people are now moving to this community because it’s accepting. Every day I hear people talking about Longmont and how inclusive it is.”

If you go

What: Longmont Pride Week

When: Saturday

  • Visibility March starts at 1:30 p.m. at Fourth Avenue and Main Street
  • Pride festivities run from 2 to 6 p.m., on Fourth Avenue between Emery and Main streets

More info:

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