Connect with us

Local News

First annual Big Sky Pride march 

Avatar photo



By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER 

It might not be the first event celebrating Big Sky’s LGBTQ community, but a young trio of leaders is confident this will be the biggest yet.   

Rounding out Pride Month on June 29, a new group called Big Sky Pride will host a march from the Big Sky Community Park to Len Hill Park. Supporters will arrive in time for Soul Shine 2023 and the second Music in the Mountains concert. Big Sky Pride is also hoping to raise $1,000 for the Montana Human Rights Network, Inc.  

On June 29, participants are invited to “glitter up” at 3 p.m. at Big Sky Community Park, and the march will begin at 4 p.m. 

Two poster making sessions will be held in the days leading up to the parade: the first on June 24 at BASE, and the second scheduled for Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Cowboy Coffee.  

Supporters created signs on June 24 at BASE. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

“[Pride Month] originated from people wanting to feel seen,” said Brit Diersch of Big Sky Pride. “I think the whole purpose of pride is to be like, ‘hey, we’re here. We’re proud of who we are, we’re not going to change, and let’s celebrate that and support everyone.’” 

Ray Black, another leader in the effort, added that Pride Month celebrates the culture that the queer community has created. 

The group’s combined tenure spent living in Big Sky is only about three years, but the members have noticed culture growth in their new home.  

“I never thought there was never any sort of queer community here when I first got here,” said Diersch, who came in 2019, left at the onset of COVID-19, and returned in 2023. 

“Facts,” Black added. “Facts.” 

“Being out here this time around, it’s very noticeably changed,” Diersch added. “Every single person I’ve met here, I feel like, is part of the alphabet soup.” 

Black said he was pleasantly surprised when he moved to Big Sky two years ago.  

“The only problem is, you have to really go out and find these people,” he said.  

Black, Hensley and Diersch are leading a big community event for Pride Month. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

Michael Hensley hatched the idea of a pride event, and Black jumped in to help. Through a mutual friend—Sophie Walder, who organized the women’s pro-choice rally in 2022—they learned that Diersch was organizing her own event, and the trio joined forces. Diersch brings key organizational skills, while Black and Hensley add creative flair.  

Since Hensley arrived in Big Sky, he said, “The amount of support I’ve gotten from allies, and the amount of people who genuinely care or will have your back if any discrimination is happening—it’s actually amazing.”  

He added it would be crazy not to celebrate the rapid growth of Big Sky’s queer community. 

“We’re taking very heavy inspiration from the women’s march last year, because it was such an impactful thing,” Black said. “That amount of people from this small community that we live in were able to come together and celebrate one thing. Like, we can do that too, you know?” 

The group acknowledged that Big Sky’s queer community has held small events in the past, but they feel it’s time for a big community event.  

“I feel like this march is going to [create] a very good idea of the people that will support you and who you want to be, who you want to become,” Black said. “We really want to show people there is a community around you that cares about you… We want you to be who you are.” 

Not a protest  

Black said this is an opportunity to show up for a community that’s getting a lot of hate right now. 

He also emphasized that this is not a protest, nor is it a riot. 

“No. This is a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community,” Black said. “This is a celebration of our thoughts, our beliefs—” 

“And how far we’ve come,” Diersch added. “Only three years ago you could get fired for being gay in Texas… We’re celebrating the rights we do have, and hopefully we gain more for others.” 

She noted the transgender community. 

Hensley pointed out that Big Sky Pride is not trying to override anybody’s religious beliefs or lifestyles. The event is meant to display Big Sky’s accepting community.  

“It’s not like we’re asking you to become gay, bi[sexual], queer or anything. We’re just asking for your support,” Hensley later added.  

Diersch believes that for people to feel comfortable being themselves, they need a space to bring their differences to the table. With clear, public support, people will be more comfortable in their own skin. She added that change doesn’t happen in silence.  

“In situations where human rights are not being respected, silence is way louder than any sort of support,” Diersch said. “To choose to say nothing gives the space for people to assume it isn’t something you support.” 

Big Sky Pride wrote a mission statement: 

“Our mission is to bring our community together and celebrate how alive the queer culture is in Big Sky. We also want to shed a light on the transgender community who need the most support in legislature right now.” 

The group said they’ve felt overwhelming support from local businesses that offered to hang their poster.  

“People are excited that this is finally happening,” Black said.  

Those who have something nice to say are encouraged to email Big Sky Pride for more information, or to show support. The group also has a Facebook page and Instagram @bigskypride.  

For those thirsty after the march, The Waypoint will be offering a specialty pride drink called Equaliberry Lemonade. 10% of the specialty drink sales will support Montana Human Rights Network, Inc.  

Upcoming Events

october, 2023

Filter Events

04octAll Day17Fall Community Cleanse(All Day) Santosha Wellness CenterEvent Type :OtherEvent City:Big Sky

04oct7:00 pm9:00 pmTrivia at The Waypoint7:00 pm - 9:00 pm The WaypointEvent Type :OtherEvent City:Big Sky

04oct8:39 pm8:39 pmBSSEF movie night: TGR's Legend Has it8:39 pm - 8:39 pm Event Type :Arts,SportsEvent City:Big Sky

05oct8:39 pm8:39 pmBSSEF movie night: TGR's Legend Has it8:39 pm - 8:39 pm Event Type :Arts,SportsEvent City:Big Sky