OC Pride Jen and Amie Angus 2018

Northwestern College graduates Jen and Amie Angus of Iowa City returned to Orange City after years of being away to attend OC Pride in 2018.

ORANGE CITY—The theme for this year’s OC Pride event is “You Can’t Burn Pride,” a nod to last year’s book-burning controversy and a message to its supporters that the event isn’t going anywhere.

“Year three is really about coming together,” said Allie Macedo, communications director for the Orange City-based LGBTQ advocacy organization, which is hosting its third annual pride event next weekend.

“The world is a really hostile place — these times are really crazy — and I think it’s super important that we have events like this where we can come together and for three days we can advocate and educate and support the LGBTQ-plus community.”

Last year’s disruption — a man who does not reside in the community and was later found guilty in a court of law of burning LGBTQ-themed children’s books from the local public library to protest the event — made OC Pride board member Noah Bliss realize how much work still lies ahead.

“We’re kind of just showing we’re here, we exist, we support each other and we are not going to back down,” Bliss said. “We’re not going to back down because we see how important pride is and it literally saves lives.”

Bliss also heads up the storytelling event that kicks off pride at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, at Prairie Winds Event Center in Orange City.

During the event, storytellers will talk about some hardships they’ve faced as a member of the LGBTQ community.

“It’s going to be this space for everyone to come and be like this is how I got through — for example — living in Orange City growing up as a gay kid,” Bliss said.

“The theme is ‘Nevertheless We Persisted,’ which I think is really prevalent in this area.”

Sharing stories with one another and the audience helps develop a sense of camaraderie, Bliss noted.

“Friday night’s event is kind of the highlight for me,” Macedo added. “Being able to hear the stories and experiences that the LGBTQ-plus have gone through really resonate with me why we are doing this.

“I feel like our entire weekend, bits and pieces of it are deconstructed to form a narrative and this is a great way to showcase this is who we are and this is why we do it.”

The schedule on Saturday, Oct. 19, starts with morning yoga at Orange City Town Hall, an afternoon resource night followed by more activities at Prairie Winds including a family show, a drag show and a dance party.

Things conclude with a brunch on Sunday, Oct. 20, at the LeMars 4 Brothers location, which will include bottomless mimosas.

Another new wrinkle for this year’s schedule is it is in English and Spanish, something new OC Pride board Vanessa Nevarez, a transgender Latino woman, suggested.

She noted for pride to truly be inclusive, it needs to reach as many people as possible including the region’s growing Latino population. Advocacy, education, support and inclusivity are stated goals for OC Pride — which won the One Iowa Donna Red Wing Advocate of the Year Award in April — and board members wanted to clear up any misnomers.

“Orange City Pride is for people that want to go; we’re not forcing them to go,” Bliss said. “Pride is for the LGBTQ people and their allies and that’s it. We’re not out here to poison the water and make everyone gay.

“We’re not even here saying they need to change their minds, we are not pushing a ‘agenda.’ The only reason we exist is to the support the legitimately existing community here in Orange City. We’re not going door to door putting slips in people’s mailboxes of RuPaul and trying to get people over to our side. We are just existing and we want to show that we do exist and that we have a right to be here and a right to be who we are.”