In rural areas, about 3.8 million LGBTQ+ residents make up about a fifth of the population, according to a study published in 2019 by the Movement Advancement Project, a non-profit think tank dedicated to promoting equality and justice. Some experts believe the number is likely even higher.
Although there is no national database of LGBTQ+ pride festivals, they have spread from larger cities to small towns in states such as United States West Virginia, Texas, Kentuckyand Wyoming. That human rights campaign reports that Mississippi has seen an increase from one to around a dozen events in recent years.
There were at least 330 Proud Festivals held in the United States in 2022, nearly half in cities with fewer than 50,000 residents, according to Beck Banks, a graduate student at the University of Oregon of transgender media and transgender rurality.
The number of new Pride events can be difficult to pin down because, according to Banks, they are primarily determined by how well they are marketed.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are about 100 more out there, and I’d be happy if there are,” they said. “Big suburbs are getting their own Prides, but it’s clear that smaller cities and rural areas are leading that growth.”
Among her research projects, Banks described this The lawyer Tracking Prides as a method to assess queer life outside of metropolitan areas.
“Similar to the women’s march and the BLM Movement, LGBTQ (and these intersectional identities) are speaking out in small towns and rural areas,” says Banks. “We have learned that action is required. Pride is an act. It’s about creating a place for it to thrive in this country.”
Over the past month, many unexpected Pride celebrations have been held across the country to honor the LGBTQ+ community. We share some of them here.