WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — From a rally to a parade, downtown Wichita filled with people Sunday afternoon. It was all part of Wichita Pride activities.
The usual Pride events were scaled back this year because of COVID, but those who took part say it was a great turnout. Supporters met at the old Sedgwick County Courthouse in the 500 block of N. Main. After a rally there, they paraded to Century II.
Their goal was to spread awareness and create inclusion in Wichita.
“There’s this idea that somehow LGBTQ people are “them,” they’re the “other,” and yet we aren’t,” said Rep. Stephanie Byers, D-Kansas District 86. “We’re the neighbors. We’re the school teachers. We’re the people who work at the restaurants. We’re the people that you go and conduct business with at the bank. We’re the people that deliver your mail. We’re the people that work at the aircraft industry in this city. And we want to make sure that people know that they have us, we are here, we are part of this community, not the “other.” We are essential to this community, and we want to celebrate that.”
Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple was also at today’s events. He says events like this are essential to create a city that is open and accepting to everyone.
“It’s incredibly important that folks not only come out here and show their support for equality and really justice for everyone, but at this moment, right now,” he said. “The city council will be considering a non-discriminatory ordinance that will modernize our ordinances, get us caught up to the type of cities we are losing to economically, and showing the world that Wichita is big enough for everyone regardless of who you are.”
The Wichita City Council tabled the non-discrimination ordinance in July. However, it plans to revisit the issue at the Oct. 12 meeting.
Byers says she hopes that the council members will see the turnout at the Pride Parade and realize how many people a non-discrimination ordinance will protect.
“I think it’s an incredible testament to the people of Wichita in a world right now where hatred seems to dominate a lot of the discussion, that folks are coming together in the name of equality, in the name of love, in the name of our community, to ensure that Wichita in the future can be one with less discrimination and one in hopes that our kids can grow up in and be proud of when it comes to the issue of discrimination and equality,” the mayor said.
Byers says the events that were canceled would have had space for vendors and artisans. She also says health coalitions would have had booths with information for LGBTQ individuals.