This year’s PrideFest dedication goes to Jessica Flatequal the late executive director of South Central Minnesota Pride. Jessica’s wife, Maria Bevaqua, is here to accept the dedication on Jessica’s behalf.
Maria shares that Jessica’s life and impact can’t be summed up in one speech, one event, or by one person. But there are key perspectives that can be shared. “Jessica loved Minnesota and Mankato. She proudly called herself a townie, and she did more than her share to make Greater Mankato the kind, welcoming, affirming community it is. Jessica loved queer people of all ages, races, nationalities, and religions. She loved that people trusted her with their coming out struggles and successes, and she loved sharing her own experience when she thought it could make a difference.”
Jessica was a self-proclaimed “professional lesbian” and lived that title through her work at the LGBT Center at Minnesota State University, Mankato and through leading SCMN Pride for 15 years. She also passionately lived her life as a lesbian. Jessica shares in an open letter, “I am an out lesbian. I’ve been out longer than not, twenty-two years and counting. I came out in 1991, and indeed it was hard, but I lived through it. I now have lion-like pride about who I am and work tirelessly to create a community that is safe and welcoming for LGBT people.”
That love for all queer people and a willingness to put herself out publicly provided a beacon of hope for all those around her. In writing this dedication, I reviewed her social media and news articles and one thing remains strong: People love Jessica and are continuously inspired by her to be who they are and live with true passion.
This year’s PrideFest theme is Unite. Jessica would want the community to unite and continue on with the important work of embracing diversity and promoting pride and visibility for LGBT people. Jessica said in a note about the importance of PrideFest, “Let's look optimistically toward a future when every day, in every community, LGBT people are respected, humanized, and valued. This is what Pridefest is all about.” Jessica would want to see SCMN Pride live on and grow to continue this important work. So let us Unite, rock our rainbows, and celebrate ourselves and the work Jessica has done in this community so that we can be here today celebrating at Mankato PrideFest.