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Prairie Pride Coalition celebrates 25 years

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BLOOMINGTON — The Prairie Pride Coalition (PPC) is celebrating 25 years with a slate of projects and activities.

The organization began in November 1995, when local activists gathered at the Bistro, a local restaurant, to organize around the effort to convince the Bloomington and Normal city councils to add sexual orientation protections to their human rights ordinances. It took time, but the two cities did amend their ordinances to include protections for LGBTQ people in the areas of employment, public accommodations, housing, and financial transactions.

Since then, PPC has advocated for statewide protections against hate crimes, a civil unions law, and the state marriage equality measure in 2013. The organization, which in 2011 changed its name from the Advocacy Council for Human Rights to Prairie Pride Coalition, also focuses on programs and projects to strengthen and organize the local LGBTQ community through social events, film festivals, staged readings of LGBTQ plays, annual pride events, educational programming, awareness training, and specific outreach to marginalized groups within the local LGBTQ community.

Despite the pandemic, the PPC has been working on three projects that will roll out by the end of the year. An updated version of the B/N Area LGBTQIA+ Business and Resource Directory will include more than 100 local businesses, organizations, and houses of worship that have committed to offer a welcoming, inclusive, and safe environment for members of the LGBTQ community. Beginning on Dec. 1, PPC will co-sponsor a virtual exhibit of quilts from the National AIDS Memorial Quilt. Featured quilt panels will include several that were created for local people lost to HIV and AIDS. Finally, the organization will award its inaugural Pride of the Prairie student scholarship to a local high school senior who through their advocacy for LGBTQ equality has made a difference at their school.

For the remainder of the year, PPC will post historical documents and narratives on its Facebook page and noted figures from the local LGBTQ community will also be featured in video segments. PPC has also commissioned a special 25th anniversary medallion that memorializes its history.

Tentative plans call for a belated celebration sometime in 2021.

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