LGBTQ community highlights allies at Pride Festival 2018

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - A message spread loud and clear as the LGBTQ community of Rapid City lifted their flag of many colors to kick off their weekend and express pride in the Black Hills.

"Our mission is the same as every year is to provide a safe place for all of the LGBT community plus our allies," said Michael Hanson, board director for the Black Hills Center for Equality.

With Allies being many of the 65 vendors at this year's pride festival, some say it is clear that support from the community continues to grow.

"Kol, like Press Start, they have a booth here this year, Veteran Affairs has booth here this year so you see a wide spectrum of so much support coming from these allies and you know it is nothing short of beautiful, it is so incredible," said Daniel Davis, president of Queer South Dakota.

Known for supporting equal rights, gender equality, and challenging opposing phobias, the LGBTQ says these groups and individuals are essential to their lives.

"They're support in telling our stories, well not telling them but standing with them, sharing them with other allies, putting their foot down when they see injustice. It is vitally important," said Davis.

One of this year's performers says there's no greater feeling to hear the words it's ok to be you.

"It's an amazing feeling because you don't get a lot of people saying that to you. I just had someone come up to me and say you know they loved the performance and they loved me and then they're just like continue to be you," said Persephone Shakers, Miss Gay Capitol City.

She says she's happy to spread the word.

"Sending that message off because when they send it to me, I'll send it to someone else just to make them smile," said Shakers,

The Black Hills Pride 2018 Official After Party runs until 1 a.m. and there will be a Black Hills Pride Interfaith Service on Sunday.