Hundreds attend inaugural Cedar Valley Pride Fest - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hundreds attend inaugural Cedar Valley Pride Fest

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

In many larger cities, Pride Fest is a summertime staple, but this is a first for Waterloo, and organizers are "proud" to show off the diversity of the Cedar Valley.

"Pride Fest is about showcasing and accepting the differences of the LGBT community. Lesbians, gays, bisexual and transsexuals," said one organizer, Mike Tyer.

Several local organizations -- including political campaigns, human rights groups, and churches -- took advantage of the opportunity to get their message out to hundreds of festival participants.

"I'm here because I'm helping out with the Iowa Pride Network because I'm on the leadership team. And we're trying to advocate how our network works and the different events we have going on," said college student Liz Sederquist.

National advocate, and Iowa native, Zach Wahls spoke Saturday afternoon at the event. He said, he's heartened by the family-friendly atmosphere downtown.

"We're all united by that one same these of love. That love is what makes a family whether you're straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, whatever. We're all here celebrating the love that defines our families."

Wahls is known for giving a passionate speech at the State Capitol in support of his two mothers' right to marry. Saturday, he asked folks to continue supporting that right.

Wahls said the festival was also a chance to reflect on how far Iowa's LGBT community has come.

"Not even just since 2009 when marriage equality we recognized in Iowa, but really, since the 1960s when you had that first pride moment at Stonewall in New York City. We, as a country, have come so, so far," he said.

Organizers realize some people in the community are not comfortable with, or outright against, the idea of Cedar Valley Pride. But they encouraged everyone to come down and experience the event for themselves.

"Just because they may not be gay or lesbian, they surely know someone affected by this community," said Tyer.

A local group, known as the Cedar Valley Patriots for Christ planned a day of prayer to counter Saturday's festival. Organizer Judd Saul believes Pride Fest does not reflect the values of the community. The group did not pray in one single location, but said members met privately in area churches.

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