By Sarah Toce

The LGBTQIA+ community packed the house Saturday night (April 15, 2023) at the Kent Eagles #362 for Rainbow Bingo, a fundraiser for Des Moines’ Waterland Pride.

Hosted by Sylvia O’Stayformore, the sold-out 21+ event included prizes donated by local community members and businesses, in addition to a wine drawing, bake sale, cash bar, and musical performances by O’Stayformore. Saundra Mock Homes was a generous sponsor of the event.

“Pride is as important today as ever,” said Waterland Pride committee member Yoshiko Matsui. “LGBTQIA people are your neighbors, your friends, and your family members. Thank you to all the community that came out to support Waterland Pride. We look forward to celebrating with you on June 10th and 11th.” 

“The energy in the room was incredible! It’s clear that the Waterland community is ready to have a hometown Pride! The enthusiastic participation of the LGBTQIA Community and allies felt like a giant group hug in the midst of challenging times,” said Des Moines resident and Waterland Pride committee member Bree Davidson.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund issued a report Monday citing an increase in hate crimes against members of the LGBTQIA+ community, specifically in presidential election years. 

“Hate crimes have increased by more than 90 percent since 2014 against Asian, Black, Muslim, LGBTQ+, Jewish, Latino, immigrant, disability, and other communities,” the report stated. “Among the compiled data, it is clear that reported hate crimes increase during election cycles — including in 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020.”

“When The Community finds itself under attack around the USA, knowing that small cities and towns can rally like Waterland is heartwarming,” Davidson shared. “This is the hope we need to build upon.”

“Des Moines showed up in a big way! It was enlightening to see so many members of the community coming together and having an amazing time at the first-ever Waterland Pride Rainbow Bingo fundraiser,” said Waterland Pride committee member Travis DeNevers.

The second annual Waterland Pride will be held on June 10-11, 2023. Additional details about the event lineup are available on the organization’s Facebook page.

Below are photos from the event (click arrows to view slideshow):

Sarah Toce has been in media and publishing for over 15 years, and previously served as the president of the Society of Professional Journalists.