GERING, Neb. The Panhandle Pride Committee held their 2nd annual Pride Picnic earlier today to provide support for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered or LGBT community.
The 2nd annual Panhandle Pride Picnic at Gering's Legion Park
The Panhandle Pride Picnic is the only one of its kind in Western Nebraska.
“People come far and wide, I mean there are people from Chadron, Sidney, Ogallala, North Platte, Grand Island and Torrington that come here,” said Jeff Leanna, chair of the Panhandle Pride Committee.
“About 25 years ago there was a group that was having events like this and having dances and stuff but it faded out, so we’re trying to build that back up,” said AJ Severns, pastor of the Abbey Church and member of the Panhandle Pride Committee.
The Picnic is open to everybody and provides support for the LGBT community.
“We actually have a very large, strong, vibrant LGBT community here who before our Pride Picnic really hasn’t been closely tied together,” said Leanna.
“Just talking to peers that are either of the same mind or friendly or open to that, that’s more support than a lot of people receive, and I think that’s really necessary,” said Severns.
The picnic also served as a fundraising method to start a new group called “Panhandle Equality.”
“We’re raising money today and going forward for “Panhandle Equality,” which will be a new non-profit group organization that’ll take on the responsibility for doing our Panhandle Pride Picnic every year,” said Leanna.
The Pride Picnic is an event that hopes to continue for years to come.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to provide support and comfort for those people that are having to live almost two separate lives,” said Severns.
The Panhandle Pride Committee estimated over 150 people showed up to this year’s Pride Picnic compared to the 120 last year.