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Love, support, and giving free hugs: Lawrence PRIDE attendees share why they showed up

It was a hot, sunny day at South Park, but that didn’t stop hundreds of people from showing up for Lawrence PRIDE.

Many attendees told the Times they were there to show love and support — including giving free hugs.

Mackenzie Clark Stephanie Cosgriff and Carolyn Moore showed up to Lawrence PRIDE June 12, 2021, to offer free mom hugs to anyone who needed one.

Stephanie Cosgriff and Carolyn Moore came to South Park to offer “free mom hugs” to anyone who needed them.

“We’re here just to support all of our kids and our community that’s out here,” Cosgriff said.

Moore said many of her daughter’s friends are gender-fluid, and a lot of their parents don’t support them.

“So they all call me ‘Mom,'” Moore said. “I just want to continue to share the love with other people who don’t have supportive parents.”

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Mackenzie Clark Kaitlyn Burrell (she/her) holds up a fan at Lawrence PRIDE on June 12, 2021.

Kaitlyn Burrell said she and her friends were there because “One, we’re super gay.” But she also said there’s no judgment at PRIDE, and everyone was complimenting each other.

“We just want to show support to the LGBTQ community. Everybody has different stories, and it’s really cool to hear,” Burrell said. “… Everybody’s loving each other here.”

Burrell was with Gena Emery, who agreed to a few photos.

Mackenzie Clark Gena Emery wears bright rainbow face paint at Lawrence PRIDE, June 12, 2021.
Mackenzie Clark Gena Emery strikes a pose in stilettos at Lawrence PRIDE, June 12, 2021.

Mackenzie Clark Steve Allen, Emily Allen and Elijah (Eli) Allen came out from the Kansas City suburbs for Lawrence PRIDE on June 12, 2021.

The Allen family, Emily, Steve and Eli, drove out to Lawrence from the Kansas City suburbs to show support and solidarity.

“Plus I want to make sure he’s exposed to all different kinds of people,” Emily Allen (she/her) said, referring to Eli.


Mackenzie Clark Theryn Spomer (she/her) matched masks with daughter Natalie Munoz (she/they). They and Eddie Munoz (he/him) came to Lawrence PRIDE on June 12, 2021.

Eddie Munoz (he/him) and Theryn Spomer (she/her) came out to support their daughter, Natalie Munoz (she/they).

“I’m a part of the community and an ally, so it was kind of something that I wanted to do,” Natalie Munoz said. “I was excited to come.”

Eddie also said he was there to show allyship. He works at the University of Kansas and he’s from Lawrence, and he wants to support his community.

Natalie had her hair dyed rainbow ahead of the occasion by hair artist Corie Spone of the Halo Factory Hair Salon inside Salon Luna in Lawrence.

Mackenzie Clark Natalie Munoz (she/they) got her hair done in rainbow colors for Lawrence PRIDE. Corie Spone, hair artist at The Halo Factory Hair Salon inside Salon Luna, did the color job.

Mackenzie Clark Ira Kirschner (he/him) holds up a rainbow flag featuring the Star of David at Lawrence PRIDE, June 12, 2021. His T-shirt reads “Challah rolls – Not gender roles.”

Ira Kirschner (he/him) said he and his partner are from Lawrence, and they wanted to be there to support the values of inclusion and diversity in the city.

They’re also Jewish, and he said it was important to them to represent the gay Jews in the area. Kirschner carried a rainbow flag featuring the Star of David.


Mackenzie Clark / The Lawrence Times Shruti Mallik (they/she/he) is wrapped in a pride flag at Lawrence PRIDE just before the parade on June 12, 2021.

Shruti Mallik (they/she/he) had a pride flag wrapped around their shoulders. Mallik said they came out after the last Pride event and wanted to be there this year.


Mackenzie Clark Kelly Wade and Bastian Wade sit in the shade of a tent draped in rainbow flags at Lawrence PRIDE, June 12, 2021.

Kelly Wade (she/her) and Bastian Wade (he/him) enjoyed PRIDE from the shade of a canopy covered with different rainbow flags.

They also had little plastic baggies of pronoun buttons available for all.

Bastian had a special reason to celebrate at this year’s PRIDE: his name change was finalized earlier this week. He said he got help from the KU Legal Aid clinic to make it happen.

Mackenzie Clark Kelly Wade adjusts a sign next to bags of pronoun buttons at Lawrence PRIDE, June 12, 2021.
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Mackenzie Clark / The Lawrence Times Trinity Gifford (she/her) and Isaiah Edgerton (he/him) pose for a photo at Lawrence PRIDE on June 12, 2021.

Trinity Gifford (she/her) and Isaiah Edgerton (he/him) were taking a selfie together when the Times asked to grab a photo.

Asked why they came out to PRIDE, Gifford, who had a rainbow flag tucked into her hair, said “Just love and support!”


Mackenzie Clark / The Lawrence Times Connie Gadsen and Louise Moore are pictured at Lawrence PRIDE on June 12, 2021.

Connie Gadsen (she/her) and Louise Moore (she/her) brought their 9-month-old twins out to PRIDE.

They’ve been together for three years, Moore said. Wheeling the twins in a stroller, Gadsen and Moore were among the last few marchers at the end of the parade, which moved slowly between traffic lights on Massachusetts Street.

They came to PRIDE because “we love our family,” Gadsen said.

Mackenzie Clark / The Lawrence Times Louise Moore, Connie Gadsen and Edwin Vonbargen pose for a photo at Lawrence PRIDE on June 12, 2021. Moore and Gadsen’s 9-month-old twins got to ride in their stroller for the parade down Massachusetts Street.

The parade followed the sidewalk north on Massachusetts Street nearly a mile to a big party at Abe & Jake’s Landing.

Mackenzie Clark Fally Afani of I Heart Local Music, which sponsored Lawrence PRIDE, gives a peace sign shortly before the parade down Massachusetts Street on June 12, 2021.
Mackenzie Clark The Lawrence PRIDE parade marches down the sidewalk on the west side of Massachusetts Street on June 12, 2021.
August Rudisell/@KsScanner A giant rainbow decorated the room at Lawrence PRIDE, June 12, 2021 at Abe & Jake’s Landing.
August Rudisell/@KsScanner MsAmanda Love, the host with the most, addresses the audience at the indoor Lawrence PRIDE party, which started after the parade down Massachusetts Street, on June 12, 2021 at Abe & Jake’s Landing.
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— Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached via email at mclark@lawrencekstimes.com or 785-422-6363.

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