How Gay Dads in Rural Wisconsin Celebrate Pride
Wilson Creek, a rural neighborhood just outside the small town of Spring Green, Wisconsin, hosts the "biggest little gay pride parade in the world," says gay dad Matt Mason
Our farm is nestled in Wilson Creek, a small valley just outside of Spring Green, Wisconsin. Spring Green, despite being the home of Frank Lloyd Wright, The House on the Rock (a long-time midwestern vacation destination) and the American Players Theater, is a town of around 1,600 people. It's a special place in small-town America, to be certain. Though filled with more-than its share of artists and creative types, Spring Green is a typical middle-American town populated with farmers and factory workers — not exactly where you'd expect to find a Pride celebration. Which is one of many reasons that makes Wilson Creek Pride so special.
I moved me and my family of three kids to Spring Green three years ago for love. The transition to farm life in a rural community was not without challenges as a gay man who came out later in life, just a few short years before. I felt like I lost my gay community that I had waited so long to find. The nearest gay bar is an hour away from our farm. Minus my husband, I really didn't know many gay people in Wisconsin. Wilson Creek Pride has always served as a reminder for me, that despite not being surrounded by a large gay community, I'm surrounded by many wonderfully supportive allies and friends who celebrate me and my family for who we are.
The 5th annual Wilson Creek Pride celebration was held on June 2nd, 2019 and was organized by me, my husband Travis and our neighbors and friends Shannon and Ashley. It's a family friendly event that always begins with a parade (which we warmly refer to as "The Biggest Little LGBTQ Pride Parade in the World") down our Wilson Creek country road. The theme this year was "Pride Not Prejudice." Neighbors and friends decorate floats, tractors, ATVs and even themselves. The parade was followed up with performances by Madison drag queen, Cynthia Mooseknuckle -- also, the parade's grand marshal.
Each year we celebrate, I'm reminded of the relevance and importance of our little Pride celebration. Sadly, the first year I participated in the Wilson Creek Pride, it was the morning after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando which made the entire day resonate deeply. This year, as we were walking the parade route, word spread about a local teenage trans child that had recently run away from their conservative parents. Occurrences like this are far too common. The wish is that our celebration gives visibility and hope for those that are quietly suffering amongst us.
The following is a photo essay I took of this year's Wilson Creek Pride -- where-in, you'll find a magical concoction of joy, fun, kindness, generosity, love, and LGBTQ support. In the middle of rural Wisconsin. The message is a simple one: no matter where you are, you can celebrate Pride. In a world of chaos and uncertainty, the day is a celebration of, and for, everyone.
Thanks to our family, friends, neighbors and allies, Wilson Creek Pride is the true manifestation of the phrase: "Love wins."