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Boise Pride Festival wraps up, but not without controversy

While many were there to show their support, the event was not without controversy, much surrounding the kid’s drag show.

BOISE, Idaho — The Boise Pride Festival ended Sunday evening with both supporters of the LGBTQ+ community and protesters in attendance.

Thousands and thousands of Idahoans showed up over the course of the three-day event. 

The festival was founded in 1989. Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said she is proud of all the Idahoans who participated.

“It is so wonderful to be down here,” Mayor McLean said, “with so many people from the City of Boise and this entire community on fire this morning celebrating how we welcome everyone in Boise."

But Boise Pride was not without controversy – much of which revolved around the now postponed drag kids event.

An event Dorothy Moon, Idaho Republican Party chairwoman, said sexualizes children. In an email sent out last week, Moon listed festival sponsors and their phone numbers.

She encouraged people call and “express disappointment” over those businesses’ involvement.

Since the GOP released its statement, several businesses withdrew participation from Boise Pride. Although not all of those businesses withdrew their funding.

Ashe Jones, a member of the local drag and LGBTQ+ community, said Moon’s allegations against the kid’s drag show could not be further from the truth.

“There is no way we would even allow something like that to happen,” Jones said. “The main tone that we want to keep whenever we have more than anybody that’s over 18, if we have kids and so forth, we want to make sure that the tone is one that is an all ages or radio friendly.”

Jim, who did not disclose his last name, expressed his “disgust” with the festival.

“They’re deceived,” he said. “This is vile and disgusting. It’s never been put up with in the entirety of history.”

Another protester, who also did not state his last name, echoed similar statements.

“We don’t hate these people … not by any means,” Paul said. “But we do know they’ve been misled. They’ve been told lies for so long that they’ve started to believe them.”

Donald Williamson, Boise Pride executive director, said he is grateful for all the sponsors who continued supporting the festival despite all the controversy.

“Some of our sponsors who not only showed up but dug in their heels and said that they were in the fight with us,” Williamson said.

There was one altercation between a private security guard and a protester Saturday afternoon

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