Bad weather, disruptive protesters fail to stop La Center Pride Month rally


Despite the presence of heavy rain and a hate group, Clark County’s LGBTQ+ community completed its fourth annual Rainbow Walk without a hitch, Sunday, June 2, in La Center.

Roughly 100 people attended the rally and fair hosted by Clark County Pride, a rural LGBTQ+ advocacy group.

The walk to kick off Pride Month began at the La Center Road Bridge and ended at Holley Park, where the annual festival occurred. Participants’ multicolored umbrellas and coats kept rain from ruining the fun, and dozens of cars honked in support of the rally group. The rally was halted by the presence of anti-LGBTQ+ protesters who waited halfway through the route in front of the La Center Elementary School.

The hecklers waved symbols of LGBTQ+ hate, and several members shouted, “You’re all going to hell,” toward the oncoming group.

Their presence did not stop the rally, however. Within one minute, volunteers blocked the protesters from view with umbrellas, allowing participants to cross the road safely. Anti-LGBTQ+ chants were overwhelmed by volunteers shouting, “We’re here, we’re queer,” in unison. One of the community members who held the protesters back said the presence of hate is nothing new to their rural community.

“Whether they’re preachers, or whether they’re any flavor of bigot, we usually see them,” the person, who did not wish to be named, said. “And most of the time they’re harmless, but the community comes out [in] support because there’s always that chance that they are the opposite of harmless.”

The protesters were held back throughout the rest of the walk through the coordinated efforts of participants. Rainbow Walk attendees reached Holley Park’s Rainbow Walk Fair safely without being confronted directly by the hate group. Roughly 10 protesters circled the park throughout the fair but were held back through de-escalation tactics.

“We know we’re not going to undo years of ideology that’s just been ingrained in them since they were a child,” the volunteer stated. “At that point, we try to get them to leave the premises, and if no one’s going to get anywhere, we’ll assume the role of somebody they can target and keep engaged with.”

Police were not present during the altercations at the walk and fair. One Clark County Sheriff’s Office vehicle parked across the road from the fair but was not involved in de-escalation.

“We don’t call cops. We don’t talk to cops,” the volunteer stated. “Cops don’t historically have the dopest relationship with the queer community, you know. So we’re firm believers that we keep [ourselves] safe, and we can take care of one another.”

Clark County Pride Secretary Missy Fant was happy to see the fair continue despite the presence of protesters. She said some residents of La Center caused trouble in the past but never tried to block a rally before Sunday.

“We’ve had people honking from their cars and yelling, but none of them really stopped [it] like they did this year,” Fant said. “I saw them out there yelling at kids, [and] I don’t like that.”

The Rainbow Walk fair continued without interruption. A drag show hosted by The Imperial Sovereign Court of the Raintree Empire, an LGBTQ+ charity and volunteer organization, drew a large crowd at the event. Attendees cheered as drag queens demonstrated their dance skills during the live performance.

“It’s good to see everyone come together to support the community, and it’s good to see that, even though there are a couple of a*** who try to ruin it, we can still have a good time,” a de-escalator said.

Clark County Pride is an LGBTQ+ advocacy group for La Center and rural Clark County. To learn more about the organization, visit clark