SHERIDAN — More than 475 community members made history as they marched from the Cozy Corner on Coffeen Avenue through much of Sheridan’s downtown and back in Sheridan’s first-ever LGBTQIA Pride March. A mass of people of all ages gathered in front of the local bar holding signs, clothed in rainbow colors, waving flags while vehicles passed honking in support.
Katie Wallenkamp led the event. She announced the event on Facebook 10 days before the big day and received approval for the march by the city of Sheridan on the third anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub Massacre June 13. Wallenkamp said after she posted it on Facebook, word spread. Bonafide Food Truck and Catering donated doughnuts and AlphaGraphics donated an LGBTQIA official sign.
“I have been seeing pride parades go on all over the country and I just wanted to make sure Sheridan had one too,” Wallenkamp said. “Maybe this will bring a voice to all the people that haven’t been heard for so long here in Sheridan.”
Rev. Sheila Naismith of Sheridan’s First Congregational Church came in support of the march.
“The United Church of Christ has long supported the LGBT community,” Naismith said. “For me personally as the minister here, this is about human rights; this has been long needed and I think folks might be surprised at the number of people out here, but I’m not.”
Steven Germann, a resident who was born and raised in Sheridan, was ecstatic to participate in his hometown’s first pride march.
“I grew up here and I didn’t have the visibility that this is going to provide for the youth who are struggling with their identity and their sexual orientation,” Germann said. “ The next generation will have a community coming together for love and support towards someone like me or somebody who’s struggling with their identity like I did.”
Susie Clinch Cannon embraced the day as a proud Sheridanite.
“I love this town so much and I love watching it grow and express the wonderful welcoming nature of the Sheridan, Wyoming,” Cannon said. “I think it sends the message loud and clear, not just throughout our community, but to those outside that we are a welcoming place, that we embody the best part of the Western live and let live ethic.”
The streets filled in support of the LGBTQIA community, and it seemed participants shared one mission for the day.
“This will create visibility, and that’s the most crucial thing for the LGBQT community,” Lamont said. “This shows that people support them, that they love them, that there are people out there like them.”
With such large support, Wallenkamp already has plans in motion to improve the march for next year.
“I think next year we’ll make sure that we have a big spot to gather afterwards to have like a picnic, and we have a number of businesses we’ll be partnering with to make this bigger and better,” Wallenkamp said.