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Marshfield, WI: Pride wins over reactionaries at council meeting

By Jay Gibbs

More than 100 people crammed into the Marshfield Common Council meeting to decla

Marshfield, WI – Over 100 community members packed the chambers and overflowed into the lobby of an otherwise routine common council meeting, May 9, in the 18,900 person town of Marshfield, Wisconsin. On the agenda was a period devoted to open comments from the public, and religious reactionaries in the community had attempted to rally comment in opposition to the upcoming Marshfield Pride event in June.

The Pride organizers have already secured rental of the public park, but these people opposed having Pride on public property. In addition to the entire event being moved out of town, the reactionaries demanded a complete ban on a scheduled all-ages drag performance. Of the more than 100 people there, less than 10% of them were a part of this reactionary bloc.

17 people were able to secure public comment time to address the mayor and committee. Only four of those who spoke did so in opposition to Pride while the remaining 13 spoke in favor. The capacity crowd made the chamber walls reverberate with applause at each of the speeches in support of Pride. The four opposition speeches received support from less than a dozen.

Allyson Kildahl, a resident of Marshfield and member of the trans community, was one of the speakers. After the public comment period she said, “In my opinion, this [Pride] is an event of acceptance. I attended the first local Pride. These events gave me the confidence to come out as my true self.”

Kildahl was not the only community member to feel a sense of acceptance from their community at the meeting. An organizer with Marshfield Pride, Kellyn Jepsen, spoke to the council about prior Pride events' successes and the importance of inclusion in the community. “We hoped for a large community turnout at this meeting. We have a message of support, and we were very happy with the showing of support,” Jepsen said.

When asked if the diverse crowd was important in supporting the Pride event and the LGBTQ community, Jepsen agreed.

“Diversity grows solidarity. Seeing broad support from the community for us will ideally lead to other marginalized groups in our area feeling empowered to demand an equal and safe space.”

Three common council members were approached for comment, but all declined. Marshfield Pride is planned for June 24 at the Wenzel Family Plaza.

The struggle for LGBTQ rights is on the rise in response to several state and national level attacks stemming from the reactionary GOP, and often with only lukewarm opposition from Democrats at best or hand-in-hand collaboration at worst. While the spotlight in the fight for LGBTQ liberation is often on the movements taking place in bigger cities, it's in places like Marshfield, Wisconsin or Missoula, Montana where some of the most pitched battles are being waged. Organized resistance to organized reaction is the way forward.

#MarshfieldWI #Pride